March 21, 2023

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Senator Seeks to Require Confirmation for Lt. Governor Appointee

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Gov. Jeff Colyer will name a lieutenant governor in the coming weeks, but there isn’t a specific timeline for naming a second, according to Colyer’s Director of Communications Kendall Marr.

Marr wouldn’t say who Colyer is considering for the position, though he said Colyer has spoken to a number of potential candidates.

“There are several candidates who have indicated they are interested,” Marr said.

Sen. Dennis Pyle

His pick won’t require confirmation by the Kansas Senate, but one lawmaker is seeking to change that.

“Appointment without oversight is comparative to walking along a cliff in the dark,” Sen. Dennis Pyle, a Hiawatha Republican, said.

Colyer was the longest service lieutenant governor in state history. A number of Kansas governors named new lieutenants in the middle of their administrations or in situations like Colyer’s, where the lieutenant became the governor and named a new second.

Former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius replaced her first lieutenant governor, John Moore, with Mark Parkinson. Parkinson later became governor when President Obama appointed Sebelius to a position in his cabinet. Parkinson named Troy Findley, Sebelius’ chief of staff,  as his second.

Pyle says those situations can allow someone who has never faced voters to be next in line to become governor or to become governor.

“Senate confirmation eliminates the possibility of someone stepping into the office of lieutenant governor or governor without ever having faced the scrutiny of the voters or the check on power that can be provided by those elected to represent the voters,” he said. “The past and current situation make this reform a timely issue.”

In addition to naming a lieutenant governor, Colyer will be making a number of staff appointments in coming days, Marr said.

Sources tell Sentinel Colyer will name a new state budget director today. Rep. Larry Campbell, an Olathe Republican, is the likely candidate. Meanwhile, current budget director Shawn Sullivan will be named as chief operations officer for Colyer.

Though Marr wouldn’t confirm or deny those appointments, he said Kansans can expect a number of staff and administrative change announcements in the coming weeks.

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