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Brandon Smith, Brownback's policy director, stepping down next week

In another sign that Gov. Sam Brownback's administration is winding down to a close, his office announced Thursday that his policy director Brandon Smith will step down from that role next week.

Smith, a 2011 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law, has served as Brownback's policy director since February 2015. Among other things, he was instrumental in forging links between the governor's office and the new Trump administration when it came into office in January.

In a short statement, Brownback praised Smith for his work in the administration.

“Brandon’s service has been a credit to the state of Kansas, and I’m thankful for his tireless work on behalf of conservative principles,” Brownback said. “I know he is going to continue to work to promote individual freedom, human dignity, and economic opportunity for all.”

“It has been an honor to serve Governor Brownback and the people of Kansas,” Smith said in the news release. Brownback did not name a replacement.

Brownback's office said Smith will soon go to work in the administration of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin.

Brownback is expected to step down himself in the near future. He has been nominated to be U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom in the Trump administration. He appeared before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Oct. 4 for a confirmation hearing and is now waiting for that committee to forward his nomination to the full Senate for confirmation.

Once confirmed, Brownback will resign from office, elevating Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer to take over as the state's chief executive.

Colyer is also running for a full term of his own in the 2018 election but he faces a crowded field of competitors for the Republican nomination.

Chief among those are Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former Sen. Jim Barnett, who ran as the GOP's nominee for governor in 2006. Also in the field, though, are former Rep. Mark Hutton of Wichita; former Rep. Ed O'Malley, who now lives in Wichita; and Wichita oil and gas magnate Willis "Wink" Hartman."

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