(UPDATED to reflect comments from Colyer)
Former Gov. Jeff Colyer is endorsing Republican Patrick Penn in a primary bid to unseat incumbent state Rep. Michael Capps.
Appearing at the Wichita Area Builders Association on Wednesday, Colyer gave his support to Penn in the upcoming Aug. 4 primary.
“Patrick Penn is a pro-life, pro-family Republican who served our country just as he will serve the people of Wichita – with honor,” Colyer said.
“Patrick Penn will fight for our conservative principles of life, faith and family in the statehouse,” Colyer said.
“It is time to put the past behind us and look forward to Patrick Penn serving the people of Wichita in the Kansas House,” Colyer said.
“Patrick Penn was raised in foster care and will be a fierce defender of children in need and the unborn,” he said.
Colyer is no stranger to the controversy Capps has generated since he was first selected for the House District 85 seat in 2018.
Two years ago, Colyer called for Capps to resign his seat in the Kansas Legislature after it was revealed that the lawmaker was accused of emotionally abusing two boys.
“This issue in Wichita is very troubling,” Gov. Jeff Colyer told KSNT at the time.
“A state representative who has serious allegations and a serious investigation that involves children should not be holding office. I think that he should resign and that we have a new way forward.”
Colyer will have now taken sides in four Republican primaries this election cycle.
Last year, the former governor called on Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner to back out of the U.S. Senate race and mount a primary challenge against Congressman Steve Watkins
Earlier this year, he backed Congressman Roger Marshall in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.
And he also backed his former lieutenant governor, Tracey Mann, in the race for the 1st District congressional seat.
The race for the House District 85 seat in Wichita has grown hot after Penn accused Capps of making a contribution to Planned Parenthood in Penn’s name as a smear.
Then this week, the Wichita Eagle reported that Capps asked an African-American lawmaker to pose in a photo with him in exchange for a campaign contribution.
The newspaper reported that Capps told Rep. Willie Dove of Bonner that he wanted the photo “because you’re Black.”
Capps has been enmeshed in a number of controversies since he’s been in the Legislature.
After he filed to run in 2018, questions were raised about whether he misrepresented where he lived.
Soon after, it was revealed that he had been accused of emotionally abusing two children while working as a volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Sedgwick County.
The Kansas Republican Party cut ties with Capps after news of the emotional abuse allegations broke.
At that time, state Republican officials pulled their support of Capps in the race for the 85th District seat against Democrat Monica Marks.
Last year, the Sedgwick County Republican Party called on Capps to resign his seat in the Legislature after the Wichita Eagle revealed connections between him and a campaign spreading false rumors about Brandon Whipple during his successful campaign for mayor of Wichita.
Penn is a veteran who joined the U.S Army after graduating from high school. He served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He received the Meritorious Service Medal and the Combat Action Badge before retiring at the rank of captain in 2017.
Penn graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in criminology and earned a master’s in applied information technology from the George Mason University Volgenau School of Engineering.
The primary winner would face Democrat Marcey Gregory in the general election.
The district has leaned conservative over the years, represented by former Republican state Reps. Steve Brunk and Chuck Weber.