Gov. Jeff Colyer named a businessman from outside of Topeka politics as his lieutenant governor and running mate. He made the announcement Tuesday during a Kansas Livestock Association dinner.
Tracey Mann will be sworn in Wednesday.
Mann, who lives in Salina, ran for Congress in the First District in 2010. He failed to get the Republican nomination, which went to Tim Huelskamp. It was during that run that he drew criticism for suggesting that then-President Barack Obama should show his birth certificate.
Mann said he will be traveling across Kansas, listening to citizens.
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“Government is about leadership. Leadership is about vision and service and heart,” Mann said.
Mann is managing director and principal of Newmark Grubb Zimmer, a Kansas City-based commercial real estate company. He was previously director of the National Student Leadership Forum on Faith and Values.
Colyer decided to make his announcement at the Livestock Association dinner to reflect his focus on finding someone who understands the challenges facing rural and agricultural communities.
“I wanted somebody who was a strong leader, who was a go-getter. Somebody who got things done,” Colyer said.
The selection comes two weeks into Colyer’s administration.
Mann could help Colyer, who is a plastic surgeon from Overland Park, secure the support of the state’s rural areas. Colyer is competing against several candidates for the Republican nomination for governor.
Kansas Farm Bureau CEO Terry Holden endorsed the selection. In a statement, he called Mann a “good friend of Kansas agriculture and a great leader.”
While running for the first congressional district in Kansas in 2010, Mann said at a forum that then-President Barack Obama should show his birth certificate — to “resolve it one way or another.”
He later said during an appearance with a Salina radio station: “I think the president of the United States needs to come forth with his papers and show everyone that he’s an American citizen and put this issue to bed once and for all.”
His spokesman at the time said that Mann had misspoke.
Asked about the prior situation by a reporter Tuesday night, he said: “You know, I had a football coach one time that says when you make a mistake, you don’t make excuses and you move on. And I made some mistakes in that race, but I’ve moved on.”
Pressed further, he added, “I’ve moved on from that and I can’t wait to serve our state as lieutenant governor and really talk about the issues that matter, which are jobs and growing the economy and helping agriculture to do better.”
A Democratic senator who attended the Livestock Association dinner expressed skepticism over Mann.
“I’m concerned, not because of what Mr. Mann has said, but the fact that he has to have been fully vetted by our chief executive officer, Gov. Colyer,” said Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, referring to Mann’s Obama comments. “And that I’m certain that he would have had to have done his homework.”
Mann, who will be Kansas’ 50th lieutenant governor, holds a degree in agricultural economics from Kansas State University, where he was student body president.
He lives with his wife, Audrey, and their four children.