This year’s election is quite unlike any other in recent (or not so recent) history. But the presidential race isn’t the only hotly-contested one.
There are several contests closer to home where the candidates are fighting tooth and nail for a soon-to-be-vacated office.
On the state level, this describes Roger Marshall (R) and Alan LaPolice (I), who are running for incumbent Tim Huelskamp’s seat, after Marshall beat Huelskamp in the primary. They met during the Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce’s candidate forum at C.L. Hoover Opera House Monday evening, where they held a brief debate and answered questions from the public.
Both would be newcomers to Capitol Hill if elected to serve the 1st District. Both believe this “outsider” status would be a strength, enabling them to navigate the halls of power without becoming mired in the political muck that has often plagued career politicians and other insiders.
Marshall has already begun speaking with House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, among others.
“What I will bring to Congress is a person that can bring people together to solve problems,” Marshall said.
LaPolice expressed concern over Marshall’s meeting with Ryan. He believes Marshall’s approach is too similar to that of other Republicans who have entered Congress as outsiders and become insiders.
“Nothing will change in DC until we change it, nothing will change within the party until we change it,” he said.
Lapolice blames the shrinking of the middle class, stagnant wages, and stalled economic growth on corruption in politics and intends to work toward overturning the Citizens United ruling.
“No one trusts the government because money has corrupted the process, because money is infused directly into political campaigns and it buys races, and it buys legislation, and anyone that says otherwise isn’t paying attention,” he said. “Look at the economic recovery. Wall Street’s recovered brilliantly, Wall Street’s on record highs. Main Street, however, is still stagnant.”
The candidates also discussed the national debt and their ideas as to how it might be reduced.
The second amendment came up during the discussion. Both Marshall and LaPolice said they believe in the right to carry concealed firearms.
For LaPolice, it’s a tough question.
“I support the right to carry firearms ... but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with incentivizing training,” he said. “I’m not saying regulation, I’m talking incentives.”
He does believe in background checks for gun purchases and would like to see guns kept out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill.
For Marshall, it’s not an issue.
“I think it’s a very easy question,” he said. “I will fight to the end for my second amendment right.”
LaPolice has an agricultural background — he grew up on a dairy farm — and has served in the military as a Bradley gunner and an expert sniper, where he fought in the first Gulf War. He is a teacher and has served as a high school principal and as a superintendent.
Marshall’s background is in healthcare. He is an OBGYN by profession.
“If I was elected I would probably be the only physician in Congress that’s ran a hospital as well as helped oversee three county health departments,” he said.
Marshall also served in the Army Reserve as a marksman.
He and LaPolice both discussed Fort Riley during the candidate forum, including the impact of sequestration on the budget and consequently the base.
“Sequestration is the product of a government that’s gone awry,” Marshall said. “You have the left and the right yelling at each other so loudly, so interested in making nightly news, that we can never get anything done — that there’s no relationships between congressmen and (congress)women anymore.”
He and LaPolice appeared to agree on this for the most part.
Both are interested in working with both sides of the aisle.
“I’m independent, so I don’t have to work across the aisle,” LaPolice said. “I’m literally in the aisle.”
Both intend to work with the new president — whoever he or she is — if elected.
“...I can’t help but think that whether it’s Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump, that they want this country to get better,” Marshall said.
However, LaPolice stipulated he didn’t intend to let the president legislate, if elected.