Brownback hoping for speedy confirmation; Colyer quiet following announcement

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday he plans to stay in office until he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a diplomatic post in the Trump administration, something he said he hopes will happen as early as next month.

Brownback has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the nation’s ambassador at-large for religious freedom, a post housed in the State Department. Speaking informally with reporters Tuesday at the Statehouse, Brownback said he has had conversations with Senate leaders and believes he has bipartisan support for the position. He also said he hoped his confirmation could be completed in September.

The schedule for his Senate confirmation has not yet been announced and probably won’t be announced until Congress returns from its August recess. It is expected that the process will begin with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

A swift confirmation would be helpful to Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who will succeed Brownback in the governor’s office once Brownback resigns, because it would give him a running start in preparation for the 2018 legislative session.

During this year’s session, lawmakers passed a two-year budget for state government, but there are always tweaks that need to be made in the second year. Sept. 15 is the deadline for most state agencies to submit their budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year. After that, the next official revenue estimates are due in early November. Those are used as the basis of the budget proposal the governor makes to the Legislature in January.

Colyer has been in a somewhat awkward position since Brownback announced in July that he planned to accept the ambassadorship. Trying hard not to upstage Gov. Brownback during his final days or weeks in office, Colyer has quietly been putting together his own management and campaign teams while also avoiding the news media.

Last week, Colyer announced with a press release that he intends to run for a full term as governor. He also announced the appointment of Kansas Republican Party executive director Clay Barker as his new chief of staff, and former WIBW-TV reporter Kara Fullmer as his new press secretary.