Samuel (Sam) Brownback has been the governor of Kansas since 2011, having previously served as a Republican senator from Kansas (1996 to 2010) and as a former presidential candidate known for his conservative and religious views. He was also a US representative for Kansas’s second congressional district during 1995 and 1996. He grew up in the United Methodist church, was drawn to evangelicalism in the mid-1990s, and converted to Catholicism in 2002. In December 2006 he began a campaign for the Republican nomination for president but dropped out in October 2007, citing lack of funds, and later endorsed John McCain. Brownback is strongly pro-life, opposes abortion in all circumstances and argues for research that uses alternatives to embryonic stem cells; since 2002 he has supported restricting the death penalty in all but extreme cases. He also supports federal and state tax reform (including an optional flat tax) and traditional marriage.
He has supported the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. He has also been an outspoken proponent of labeling the violence in Darfur genocide and wants to promote democracy and human rights in Iran and North Korea. His platform has included judicial impartiality, the review and termination of underperforming federal programs, and the protection and renewal of American culture. He chaired the Senate Values Action Team. In April 2011 he signed two controversial state law banning abortions after 21 weeks and requiring notarized parental signatures for minors seeking abortions. Brownback holds a JD from the University of Kansas.