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Longtime Brownback aide named as governor's interim spokesman

— Gov. Sam Brownback announced Wednesday that he has named longtime aide Bob Murray to be his new interim spokesman.

Murray, who currently serves as special assistant to the governor, will continue in that role while also serving as spokesman for the governor's office. He has worked as an aide to Brownback for more than 20 years, including time as his press secretary when Brownback served in the U.S. Senate.

He replaces Rachel Whitten, who has been filling two roles, as the governor's press secretary and public information officer for the Kansas Department of Revenue since Aug. 18, after former press secretary Melika Willoughby stepped down.

"I very much appreciate Rachel's service to the state of Kansas and my office. She stepped in and worked two full time jobs, handling all the responsibilities with true professionalism," Brownback said in a statement released Wednesday. "With the legislative session about to begin it is important for Rachel to devote her full attention to the Department of Revenue. I am appreciative of Bob for his willingness to step into this role for the remainder of my time in office."

Brownback had expected to be out of office at this time, pending Senate confirmation of his appointment as U.S. ambassador for International Religious Freedom. But the Senate did not vote on his confirmation before adjourning the congressional session last month.

If President Donald Trump resubmits his nomination and the Senate eventually votes to confirm him, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will take over as governor. Colyer recently appointed his own communications team.

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