Sam Brownback was born in Garnett, Kan., and now lives in Topeka. He earned a bachelor's degree from Kansas State University and a law degree from the University of Kansas.
Brownback was Kansas' agriculture secretary from 1986 to 1993, although he took a year off to serve as a White House fellow.
He was elected to Congress in 1994. He won a special election to the U.S. Senate in 1996, replacing Bob Dole, who resigned to run for president. Brownback won a full Senate term in 1998.
Brownback was elected governor of Kansas in 2010.
He and his wife, Mary, have five children.
Sam Brownback was elected the 46th governor of Kansas in November 2010 after a lengthy career in Congress.
Brownback has worked to turn Kansas into a laboratory for conservative policy. Though the results overall have been mixed, the state has enacted massive income tax cuts and some of the nation's toughest restrictions on abortion.
The income tax cuts enacted in 2012 represent the conservative Republican governor's signature achievement. The cuts were expected to save taxpayers more than $4.5 billion over six years.
The state cut all individual income tax rates for 2013, dropping the top rate to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent and exempting the owners of 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses from taxation. Brownback and his allies — the administration paid $75,000 to noted Reagan-era economist Arthur Laffer to advise it on tax policy — contend the cuts will boost the economy.
But the Legislature's research staff predicted that the cuts will lead to collective budget shortfalls approaching $2.5 billion over six years, and critics of the reductions fear they'll force the state to slash spending on schools and social services.
Brownback took office in January 2011 with Kansas facing a budget shortfall approaching $500 million. At his urging, legislators closed the gap largely by siphoning money away from highway projects and cutting base state aid to public schools by nearly 6 percent.
Legislators overhauled the public pension system for teachers and government workers, but they didn't go as far as creating a 401(k)-style plan for new hires, something Brownback supported. The governor also moved the state toward turning over its $2.9 billion-a-year Medicaid program for the poor, elderly and disabled to three private health insurance companies, staying with the changes despite some legislative grumbling.
He's been less out front on social issues, preferring to concentrate on economic ones, but abortion opponents know he'll sign whatever measures they can get through the Legislature. He demonstrated that by signing six major bills in his first 18 months in office, including measures to restrict further late-term abortions and to impose special regulations on abortion providers. Several new laws quickly became tied up in court.
Brownback was swept into office in 2010 on a wave of voter frustration with President Barack Obama and other Democrats in Washington, aided by the rise of the tea party movement. Brownback won 63 percent of the vote as Republicans swept all statewide and congressional races on the ballot for the first time since 1964.
But he faced resistance from moderate Republicans to some of his initiatives, including the push for a new 401(k)-style pension plan and for changes to give the governor more control over appellate court appointments. GOP moderates controlled the state Senate for the first two years of his tenure.
But conservatives ousted many of those moderate senators in GOP primaries in 2012, with financial backing and other help from the powerful Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the anti-tax, small-government group Americans for Prosperity and Koch Industries Inc., led by prominent conservative political donor Charles Koch.
Brownback had long been a favorite of Christian conservatives for his strong stances as a U.S. senator against abortion and same-sex marriage. He also gained some attention as a vocal critic of the entertainment industry.
Brownback was elected to the House in 1994, part of the so-called Republican revolution that gave the GOP control of both the House and the Senate for the first time in 40 years. Two years later, he won election to the Senate.
After Obama became president in 2009, Brownback was a vocal critic of the Obama administration's economic policies and voted against stimulus legislation championed by Obama, both in February 2009 and in summer 2010.
He continued to show his anti-Obama streak as governor, saying he didn't want to take steps to start an online insurance marketplace mandated by the federal health care law even after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the law as constitutional in June 2012. He preferred to wait and see whether GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney would unseat Obama.
Brownback converted to Catholicism in 2002, and his religious devotion and commitment to helping the poor in other nations has led him in the past to break the mold of classic conservatives.
He was an early advocate of U.S. action to stop genocide in Sudan's Darfur region and has visited Congo and Rwanda to decry the humanitarian crises there and call for better coordination in foreign aid programs.
He also broke with many of his conservative allies by supporting a bill that gives a path to citizenship to 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. That stance caused him some problems in 2007 during his unsuccessful run for president, and he attempted to avoid the issue completely once elected governor.
American Conservative Union Rating: 92
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 5
Sam Brownback won his August 2014 primary, he will face Paul Davis in November.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on August 6, 2014.)