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Sam Brownback

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Sam Brownback
Sam Brownback.png
Governor of Kansas
In office
January 10, 2011 - Present
Term ends
January 2019
Years in position 4
PredecessorMark V. Parkinson (D)
Base salary$99,636
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Campaign $$3,569,073
Term limitsTwo consecutive terms
Prior offices
United States Senator
November 5, 1996- January 3, 2011
United States House of Representatives
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture
High schoolPrairie View High School
Bachelor'sKansas State University (1978) (Agricultural Economics)
J.D.University of Kansas Law School (1982)
Date of birthSeptember 12, 1956
Place of birthGarnett, Kansas
ProfessionAttorney, Farmer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Sam Brownback (b. September 12, 1956, in Garnett, Kansas) is the 46th and current Republican Governor of Kansas. Brownack was first elected governor in 2010. He defeated Joan Heffington for the Republican nomination by a landslide in the August 3 primary and went on to defeat Tom Holland (D), Andrew P. Gray (L) and Ken Cannon (Reform) in the general election on November 2, 2010.[1] On January 10, 2011, Browback was sworn into the state's chief executive office. He began his second four-year term on January 12, 2015, having won re-election in 2014.

For his 2014 re-election campaign, Brownback teamed up again with his 2010 running mate, current Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer (R).[2] Brownback and Colyer won the GOP primary on August 5, and survived a hotly contested battle against Democrats Paul Davis and Jill Docking in the November 4 general election.

Prior to becoming governor, Brownback served in a number of elected government offices. Most recently, he was the senior U.S. senator for Kansas from 1996-2011, having won a special election to fill the seat left vacant by former Sen. Bob Dole (R). He was re-elected to a full term in 2004. He ascended to the U.S. Senate out of the U.S. House, to which he was elected by voters from Kansas' 2nd Congressional District in 1994. Brownback began his political career in 1986, when he became the youngest individual to be elected Kansas Secretary of Agriculture in the state's history.[3]

Brownback is a licensed attorney. He practiced law in Manhattan, Kansas between his graduation from law school in 1982 and his election to the statewide office of agriculture secretary. During his tenure as secretary, Brownback did double duty as a White House Fellow under the administration of George H.W. Bush.[3]

An analysis of Republican governors by Nate Silver of the New York Times in April 2013 ranked Brownback as the 12th most conservative governor in the country.[4]


Brownback is a fourth-generation Kansan. Born in Garnett, he grew up on a farm in Linn County where his parents still live. He was elected student body president as an undergraduate and then president of his law school class by his fellow students. At Kansas State, he also joined the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.[3]

After college, Sam spent a year in broadcasting, hosting a weekly show. He graduated from law school in 1982 and worked as a private practice attorney in Manhattan, Kansas for four years before being elected as Kansas' Secretary of Agriculture in 1986. He first went to Washington as a White House Fellow under the George H.W. Bush Administration. From 1990-1991, he was detailed to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Upon completion of his fellowship, Brownback returned to Kansas and resumed his secretarial office.[3]

Brownback holds a B.S. in agricultural economics from Kansas State University and a J.D. from the University of Kansas Law School.


  • Bachelor's of Science in agricultural economics - Kansas State University (1978)
  • Juris Doctor - University of Kansas Law School, J.D. (1982)

Political career

Governor of Kansas (2011-Present)

Brownback assumed office as Kansas' 46th governor on January 10, 2011, following his victory in the November 2, 2010, general election.


Recall petition on MoveOn.org
See also: Sam Brownback recall, Kansas (2015)

An unofficial recall petition circulated on MoveOn.org garnered more than 27,000 signatures by early February 2015. The petition, posted under the name Tony Piazza, stated:

Many Kansans traditionally vote along party lines, which is why Brownback recently won re-election by a narrow margin. However, citizens are now realizing his policies are NOT in their best interests. Kansans overwhelmingly want good schools, good roads, and a government that is fiscally healthy and takes care of its obligations to all its citizens. While this is NOT an official recall petition, it IS a way for the citizens of Kansas to state that Governor Brownback's policies are detrimental to the future of Kansas and must be stopped. [5]

—MoveOn.org, (2015) [6]

The MoveOn.org petition cannot be used to initiate an official recall effort, which must be approved by the Kansas Secretary of State. Recall supporters would need 1,000 approved sponsors for a circulation drive and 347,800 valid signatures to proceed with a recall election.[7]

Grand jury investigation

Brownback faces a federal grand jury investigation of loans to his re-election campaign by running mate Jeff Colyer (R). In January 2015, the jury summoned Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission director Carol Williams to testify and supply campaign finance documents related to three loans made by Colyer between December 2013 and August 2014. The size of the loans and the campaign's quick repayment of the first two loans raised suspicions. Colyer's first two loans were each repaid two days after their delivery to the campaign.[8]

In August 2014, Colyer defended his loans as signs of "good money management" symbolic of the administration's handling of public funds. He also noted that the first loan was repaid quickly because there wasn't much interest to be accrued at the time. Brownback refused to explain the nature of the loans during an August press conference and his office noted that all loans complied with state campaign finance laws.[8][9]

Public education funding

The Kansas Constitution requires it make "suitable provisions" for funding public education. Beginning in 2009, Brownback and the Kansas State Legislature made large cuts in school spending. Since then, public education financing has been decreased to 16.5 percent below the 2008 level. In January 2013, a Kansas trial court heard a resulting lawsuit filed by the parents against the state in regards to underfunded education. In Gannon vs. State of Kansas, the court ruled in favor of the parents. The lawsuit was moved to the Kansas Supreme Court. The legislature has previously produced education costs studies that found the suitable amount for per pupil spending to be $4,492. In 2013, the cost spent per pupil was $3,838.[10]

Job creation ranking

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals, which ranked 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation records, Brownback was ranked number 25. The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[11][12]

Twitter 'overreaction'

In November 2011, 18-year old high school senior Emma Sullivan attended a Kansas Youth in Government event in Topeka, which featured Brownback. During the event, Sullivan posted a tweet that said, "Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot." The governor's office notified event organizers about the tweet, who notified Sullivan's school. According to Sullivan, the principal ordered her to write apology letters to Brownback, the Youth in Government sponsor and others.[13]

The issue received national attention, eventually resulting in an apology from Brownback to Sullivan. He released a statement, saying, "My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms. I enjoyed speaking to the more than 100 students who participated in the Youth in Government Program at the Kansas Capitol. They are our future. I also want to thank the thousands of Kansas educators who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum. Again, I apologize for our over-reaction."[14]

Voter ID

Gov. Sam Brownback signed a law in April 2011 requiring voters to produce a photo ID before casting a ballot instead of the previous protocol of producing a signature to verify identification at the polls, starting January 1, 2013.

“This is a modest, prudent measure. You show photo ID to cash a check, you show one to get on a plane, it’s something people are used to doing,” Brownback said. “It’s a modest and important measure to ensure the sanctity of the vote.”[15]

Presidential preference


See also: Endorsements by state officials of presidential candidates in the 2012 election

Sam Brownback endorsed Rick Perry in the 2012 presidential election. [16]

U.S. Senate (1996-2011)

Brownback served in the U.S. Senate from 1996-2011.

U.S. House of Representatives (1995-1996)

Brownback was served one term in the United States House of Representatives, from 1995-1996.

He entered Congress as the Representative for Kansas' 2nd District in 1993 and, in 1996, moved to the Senate in a special election for Bob Dole's seat. He served as the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and also sat on the Homeland Security Subcommittee, the Appropriations Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Joint Economic Committee, and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, more casually known as the Helsinki Commission.[3]

On The Issues Vote Match

Sam Brownback's Vote Match results from On The Issues.
See also: On The Issues Vote Match

On The Issues conducts a VoteMatch analysis of elected officials based on 20 issue areas. Rather than relying on incumbents to complete the quiz themselves, the VoteMatch analysis is conducted using voting records, statements to the media, debate transcripts or citations from books authored by or about the candidate. Based on the results of the quiz, Brownback is a Moderate Conservative. Brownback received a score of 38 percent on social issues and 70 percent on economic issues.[17]

On The Issues organization logo.

The table below contains the results of analysis compiled by staff at On The Issues.

On The Issues Vote Quiz[18]
Economic Issues Social Issues
Issue Stance Issue Stance
Legally require hiring women & minorities Opposes Abortion is a woman's unrestricted right Strongly Opposes
Expand ObamaCare Strongly Opposes Comfortable with same-sex marriage Strongly Opposes
Vouchers for school choice Opposes Keep God in the public sphere Favors
Absolute right to gun ownership Favors Human needs over animal rights Opposes
Higher taxes on the wealthy Strongly Opposes Stricter punishment reduces crime Opposes
Support & expand free trade Opposes Pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens Opposes
Stricter limits on political campaign funds Opposes Maintain US sovereignty from UN Opposes
Prioritize green energy Strongly Opposes Expand the military Opposes
Stimulus better than market-led recovery Strongly Opposes Stay out of Iran Strongly Opposes
Privatize Social Security Favors Never legalize marijuana Opposes
Note: Information last updated: April 19, 2015.[17] If you notice the rating has changed, email us.



See also: Kansas gubernatorial election, 2014

The Record - Posted to YouTube 8/14/2014

Brownback ran successfully for re-election as Governor of Kansas in the 2014 elections. He secured the Republican nomination in the August 5 primary.[2] He and running mate, incumbent Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, defeated the Democratic ticket of Paul Davis and Jill Docking and the Libertarian ticket of Keen Umbehr and Josh Umbehr in the general election on November 4, 2014.


Primary election
Governor/Lieutenant Governor of Kansas, Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngSam Brownback/Jeff Colyer Incumbent 63.2% 166,687
Jennifer Winn/Robin Lais 36.8% 96,907
Total Votes 263,594
Election Results via Kansas Secretary of State.
General election
Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Kansas, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngSam Brownback/Jeff Colyer Incumbent 49.8% 433,196
     Democratic Paul Davis/Jill Docking 46.1% 401,100
     Libertarian Keen Umbehr/Josh Umbehr 4% 35,206
Total Votes 869,502
Election Results via Kansas Secretary of State.

Race background

Candidate filing period

On June 2, the filing window for Republican and Democratic candidates pursuing a place on the 2014 Kansas gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial ballot came to a close. One set of Republicans - led by landscape contractor Jennifer Winn - filed to take on the incumbent duo in the August 5 primary election. Meanwhile, Paul Davis, the state House Minority Leader, along with his running mate Jill Docking, were the only Democratic pair to enter the race, earning a free pass to the general election. Also joining the November lineup in advance of the primary election were Libertarian candidates Keen and Josh Umbehr. The father and son ticket knocked out a single set of opponents for their party's nomination at the Kansas Libertarian Party convention, which took place April 26, 2014.[19][20]

Highly competitive race

This contest was considered to be highly competitive, with match-up polls and race ratings dating back to the fall of 2013 underscoring the legitimacy of Davis' threat. One of the first publications to declare Brownback's vulnerability was The Washington Post, which named Kansas as one of its top 15 gubernatorial races of 2014, citing Brownback's poor approval ratings, "well shy of 50 percent."[21] Indeed, Brownback's approval ratings had been hovering around 35 percent since January 2012.[22]

Kansas was one of nine gubernatorial seats to be flagged as a "toss-up" or vulnerable for partisan switch in the 2014 cycle, based on polling data and projections courtesy of The Cook Political Report, FiveThirtyEight, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball and Governing, among others.[23][24][25]

Republican endorsements for Davis

By July 2014, Brownback's troubles crested when over 100 influential Republicans defected to the Davis campaign. The self-styled "Republicans for Kansas Values," comprised of GOP retirees and current officeholders, explained the unorthodox endorsement of Brownback's Democratic challenger as a response to steep cuts to education funding and tax cuts that contributed to a $340 million budget shortfall during the 2014 fiscal year.[26] Rather than make it a partisan matter, the race "must be about electing a moderate, commonsense Kansan as governor," stated ex-state Senate president Dick Bond on behalf of the group.[27] Polling in July also indicated that 29 percent of Republicans would vote for Davis, which marked a five-point increase from the previous month. These polls, conducted by Survey USA/KSN News, also showed Brownback losing by an average of seven points. In contrast, YouGov poll in July that showed a 10-point lead for Brownback. Polling experts and representatives of each campaign commented on how divergent polling methodologies can yield seemingly irreconcilable results. In this case, such disparities caused a rise in skepticism about the reliability of polling data in the final approach to the November general election, which Brownback ultimately won.[28]


Governor of Kansas - All candidates
Poll Sam Brownback* (R) Paul Davis (D)Keen Umbehr(L)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
SurveyUSA/KSN News Poll
June 19-23, 2014
SurveyUSA/KSN News Poll
July 23, 2014
Public Policy Polling
August 14-17, 2014
September 4-7, 2014
Public Policy Polling
September 11-14, 2014
Fort Hays State University
September 10-27, 2014
NBC News/Marist Poll
October 2014
October 2-5, 2014
Public Policy Polling
October 9-12, 2014
Rasmussen Reports
October 20-21, 2014
NBC News/Marist
October 24, 2014
October 28, 2014
AVERAGES 40.96% 44.82% 5.38% 8.92% +/-3.48 903.83
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.
Governor of Kansas - Major party candidates and undecided
Poll Sam Brownback * (R) Paul Davis (D)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
{September 20-October 1, 2014)
Gravis Marketing
(September 30-October 1, 2014)
Monmouth University
(October 16-19, 2014)
Gravis Marketing
(October 20-21, 2014)
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
{October 16-23, 2014)
AVERAGES 43.4% 45.8% 10.6% +/-3.54 1,277.8
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.
Governor of Kansas - Major party candidates, other and undecided
Poll Sam Brownback* (R) Paul Davis (D)OtherUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
CBS/NYT/YouGov (Without leaners)
July 5-24, 2014
CBS/NYT/YouGov (With leaners)
July 5-24, 2014
August 6-7, 2014
Cole Hargrave Snodgrass (R-Brownback)
August 17-30, 2014
August 18-September 2, 2014
Public Policy Polling (Umbehr supporters reallocated
September 11-14, 2014
AVERAGES 44.83% 42.5% 1.83% 5.83% +/-2.67 994.17
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.
Governor of Kansas - Major party candidates and "third party" category
Poll Sam Brownback/Jeff Coyler (R) Paul Davis/Jill Docking (D)Third PartyUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
SurveyUSA Poll
(October 23-24, 2013)
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.


Debate media

September 19 debate
September 19 debate

Sam Brownback (R), Paul Davis (D) and Keen A. Umbehr (L) shared the stage for a debate sponsored by the Johnson County Public Policy Council. All three candidates took turns explaining why their policies would help the state's largest county. Brownback argued that the controversial tax cuts he proposed have already helped the county increase business development. He also took a swipe at Davis for opposing a proposal to school districts in the county more authority over property tax rates. Davis countered that Brownback's tax policies have depleted funds for schools and roads in the county and the Republican proposal for greater tax authority included a provision taking job protections away from educators. Umbehr advocated for elimination of the income tax, favoring a sales tax that would keep more cash on hand for county residents. Brownback and Davis both opposed a tax on professional services in the county, though Brownback questioned the authenticity of the Democratic candidate's position.[29]


See also: Kansas gubernatorial election, 2010 and Gubernatorial elections, 2010

Governor Elect Sam Brownback's acceptance speech

Brownback defeated Joan Heffington in the August 3 primary, winning with 82 percent of the vote.

Brownback faced and won over Tom Holland (D), Andrew P. Gray (L) and Ken Cannon (Reform) in the general election on November 2, 2010.[30]

Kansas Governor, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngSam Brownback 63.3% 530,760
     Democratic Tom Holland 32.2% 270,166
     Libertarian Andrew P. Gray 2.7% 22,460
     Reform Party Ken Cannon 1.8% 15,397
     Write-in Heath Charles Morris 0% 7
Total Votes 838,790
Election Results via Kansas Secretary of State


In the gubernatorial debate on October 7, 2010, on KWCH all four candidates for Kansas governor said they were against the statewide smoking ban and the hypocrisy of exempting the state-owned casinos from the ban.

Brownback stated:

I think they need to be left to local units of government as well, but I’ll tell you something else that we ought to do, that’s to put the ban on the state-owned facilities. That’s where the ban ought to be on in the first place, is the state should lead by example and not exempting itself by something like this. That smoking ban ought to be on the state facilities and leave the other issues to the local control. That’s the best way a state can lead, doing this to itself and leading by example rather than putting it on somebody else, a burden somewhere else.[31]


Brownback won re-election to the United States Senate in 2004, defeating Lee Jones (D), Steven A. Rosile (L), and George Cook.[32]

United States Senate General Election, 2004
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngSam Brownback Incumbent 69.2% 780,863
     Democratic Lee Jones 27.5% 310,337
     Libertarian Steven A. Rosile 1.9% 21,842
     Reform Party George Cook 1.4% 15,980
Total Votes 1,129,022


On November 5, 1996, Sam Brownback won election to the United States Senate. He defeated Jill Docking (D) and Donald R. Klaassen (Reform) in the special election.[33]

U.S. Senate, Kansas, 1996
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngSam Brownback 53.9% 574,021
     Democratic Jill Docking 43.3% 461,344
     Reform Donald R. Klaaseen 2.8% 29,351
Total Votes 1,064,716

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Brownback is available dating back to 2010. Based on available campaign finance records, Brownback raised a total of $3,569,073 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 11, 2013.[34]

Sam Brownback's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Governor of Kansas* Not up for election $408,087
2010 Governor of Kansas* Won $3,160,986
Grand Total Raised $3,569,073
*These funds were raised for a joint ticket with lieutenant governor running mate Jeff Colyer.


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Sam Brownback's donors each year.[35] Click [show] for more information.


Sam and Mary Brownback live in Topeka with their five children; Abby, Andy, Liz, Mark and Jenna. Two of their children are adopted. Raised as a Methodist, Brownback first converted to evangelical Protestantism and then, in 2002, to Catholicism. He still regularly attends a non-denominational church.[36]

Recent news

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Sam Brownback News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Kansas Watchdog, "Brownback: A clean sweep for a new beginning," November 3, 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sabato's Crystal Ball, "2013-2014 Gubernatorial races," March 4, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Kansas Governor, "Governor Sam Brownback," accessed September 15, 2012
  4. New York Times, "In State Governments, Signs of a Healthier G.O.P.," April 16, 2013
  5. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. MoveOn.org, "Recall Sam Brownback," accessed February 9, 2015
  7. The Topeka Capital-Journal, "Brownback subject of MoveOn's unofficial recall petition," February 4, 2015
  8. 8.0 8.1 Talking Points Memo, "Federal Grand Jury Investigating GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's Campaign," January 8, 2015
  9. The New York Times, "Federal Grand Jury to Look at Brownback Loans," January 8, 2015
  10. The New York Times, "What’s the Matter With Kansas’ Schools?" January 7, 2014
  11. The Business Journals, "Governors and jobs: How governors rank for job creation in their states," June 27, 2013
  12. The Business Journals, "How state governors rank on their job-growth record," June 27, 2013
  13. Talking Points Memo, "Brownback Complaint About Student Tweet Lands Kansas Teenager In Principal’s Office," November 25, 2011
  14. Huffington Post, "Emma Sullivan Receives Apology From Sam Brownback For 'Overreaction' To Tweet," November 28, 2011
  15. "Brownback signs voter ID into Kansas law," Kansas Reporter, April 18, 2011
  16. Reuters, "Kansas conservative governor Brownback endorses Perry," September 22, 2011
  17. 17.0 17.1 On The Issues, "Sam Brownback Vote Match," accessed April 19, 2015
  18. The questions in the quiz are broken down into two sections -- social and economic. In social questions, liberals and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while conservatives and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers. For the economic questions, conservatives and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while liberals and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers.
  19. The Wichita Eagle, "Physician campaigning as Libertarian dad’s running mate in Kansas governor’s race," May 22, 2014
  20. Keen For Kansas, "Home," accessed October 6, 2013
  21. The Washington Post, "The Fix's top 15 gubernatorial races of 2014," November 15, 2013
  22. Kansas City Star, "Surveys find a hint of election vulnerability in Gov. Sam Brownback," October 29, 2013
  23. University of Virginia Center for Politics, "2014 Governor," accessed July 30, 2014
  24. Governing, "2014 Governors Races: A Look at the Too-Close-to-Call Contests," March 6, 2014
  25. FiveThirtyEight, "Governors’ Races Are Close, But There’s More Upside For Democrats," July 17, 2014
  26. The New York Times, "Kansas Democrats Turn to Data in Governor's Race," July 30, 2014
  27. The Washington Post, "More than 100 Republicans endorse Democrat against Kansas Gov. Brownback (R)," July 15, 2014
  28. The Wichita Eagle, "Polls on the Kansas governor's race vary widely," July 26, 2014
  29. The Kansas City Star, " At debate, Kansas gubernatorial candidates focus on Johnson County," September 19, 2014
  30. "Brownback: “A clean sweep for a new beginning,"" Kansas Watchdog, November 3, 2010
  31. "Governor Candidates Against Statewide Smoking Ban, Casino Hypocrisy," Kansas Watchdog, October 7, 2010
  32. Kansas Secretary of State, "2004 general election results," accessed August 29, 2012
  33. U.S. Congress House Clerk "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 6, 1996," accessed November 25, 2013
  34. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer," accessed July 11, 2013
  35. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
  36. Project Vote Smart, "Governor Samuel 'Sam' D. Brownback's Biography," accessed July 31, 2013
Political offices
Preceded by
Mark V. Parkinson (D)
Kansas Governor
January 10, 2011 - Present
Succeeded by