August 9, 2017

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Kansas, Latest News

Colyer’s New Top Staffer Admits His Boss Can’t Escape Brownback’s Shadow

Barker: It ‘Will Be Most Difficult for Colyer’ to Separate From Brownback 

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer announced on Monday he would be appointing GOP executive director Clay Barker to be his special assistant, to help with his transition into the governor’s office.

But before he started working for his new boss, Barker was pretty clear about Colyer’s giant weakness in running for reelection: he’s just another Sam Brownback.

In January, Barker told McClatchy’s Washington Bureau that the legacy of Governor Brownback, who repeatedly polled as the least popular governor in the country, will make it harder for any Republican to be elected. But he specifically said it would hurt Colyer’s chances the most:

“Barker said any nominee will have to distinguish himself from Brownback and that will be most difficult for Colyer. Brownback has faced low approval ratings during his second term. A September poll by the Morning Consult found him to be the least popular governor in the nation with 23 percent of Kansans approving of his performance.”

It’s hard to see how Barker can help Colyer move on from the Brownback years, when Barker himself was a defender of the Brownback’s disastrous agenda. Barker praised Brownback for his “unrelenting focus on improving the Kansas economy” and more recently called him a “very consequential governor” for accomplishing what “most governors aren’t able to do.”

“Even Colyer’s new adviser knows he’s nothing more than a Brownback clone,” said DGA Communications Director Jared Leopold. “Colyer stood with Governor Brownback every step of the way as he steered Kansas into financial ruin. Try as he might, Jeff Colyer can’t outrun his record of loudly cheerleading for the Brownback-Colyer economic plan. Ultimately, Kansas voters will never forget the damage done by the Brownback-Colyer administration.”

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Background:

Barker Said That It Would Be Most Difficult for Colyer to Distinguish Himself from Brownback. According to McClatchy’s Washington Bureau, “Barker said any nominee will have to distinguish himself from Brownback and that will be most difficult for Colyer. Brownback has faced low approval ratings during his second term. A September poll by the Morning Consult found him to be the least popular governor in the nation with 23 percent of Kansans approving of his performance.” [McClatchy’s Washington Bureau, 1/27/17]

Barker Said Voters Would Recognize and Reward Brownback’s “Unrelenting Focus on Improving the Kansas Economy.” According to the Kansas City Star, “And expect a strong effort to link the little-known Davis with President Barack Obama, who is highly unpopular in Kansas. ‘In Sam Brownback, you have a man who is well known to the people of Kansas,’ said Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party. ‘His unrelenting focus on improving the Kansas economy and on K-12 and higher education will be recognized and rewarded by the people of Kansas.’” [Kansas City Star, 10/29/13]

Barker: Brownback a “Very Consequential Governor.” According to the Kansas City Star, “Clay Barker, the executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said that while Brownback was controversial, he was a ‘very consequential governor.’ ‘He changed a lot of things,’ Barker said. ‘He’ll leave a record of change for the state that most governors aren’t able to do. We’ll just have to see how those changes play out in the future.’” [Kansas City Star, 7/26/17]

Barker Claimed that Election Blowback for Brownback Was Because He Pushed Through “An Immense Number of Reforms and Changes.” According to theAtlantic Online, “The electoral blowback left even supporters of the governor acknowledging that he and his allies in the legislature had simply gone too far, too fast for the majority of voters in one of the nation’s most heavily Republican states. ‘Governor Brownback has pushed through an immense number of reforms and changes in the last six years,’ said Clay Barker, executive director of the state Republican Party. ‘And you know that old saying in politics: ‘If you want to make people angry, change something.’” [Atlantic Online, 8/4/16]