Vice-President Pence broke a 49-49 tie vote over a cloture motion to cut off debate over Kansas governor Sam Brownback’s confirmation as ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom. (As you may recall, supermajority requirements for Executive-branch confirmations were ended by the Senate in 2013.) That makes his final approval for this State Department position certain, though a vote has not yet been scheduled. And not incidentally, it ends Brownback’s disastrous reign in Kansas, and finally lets his successor, Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, move up to the position that has been virtually but not actually his since Trump made the appointment back in July of last year.
Colyer has been in limbo all these months, even as Secretary of State Kris Kobach prepared to challenge him for the governorship this November. Instead of resigning and awaiting confirmation, Brownback has stuck around. Earlier this month, he delivered yet another State of the State address. He’s like the houseguest who just won’t leave:
In the eyes of many Kansans, the whole thing is getting a little awkward.
“Our poor state has such a weird reputation right now anyway,” said Teresa Briggs, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “But Brownback doesn’t seem upset, or like it’s anything out of the ordinary. I personally would be embarrassed. It’s very uncomfortable for everybody.”
Guess Brownback didn’t want to miss any paychecks.
He won’t soon be forgotten back home when he finally leaves, though. Thanks to the terrible fiscal damage he inflicted on the state, and on its public-education system, the campaign to succeed Brownback is likely to be a referendum on the supply-side experiment that he conducted. Kobach is likely to demand more of the same; Colyer is stuck with the Brownback legacy, but may try to create a separate identity now that he’s about to take control. And Kansas Democrats want the memory of life under Brownback to be etched in every voter’s mind for years to come.