The Kansas Clean Sweep bus pulls into the Depot Saturday in Liberal carrying many state GOP candidates. Daily Leader photo/
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Tuesday is Election Day, and just after noon Saturday, a bus rolled into the Rock Island Depot in Liberal carrying some of the GOP candidates for state and federal offices in Kansas.
The crowd greeted current U.S. Senator and gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback, current Kansas State Senator and U.S. Congressional candidate Tim Huelskamp and state treasurer candidate Ron Estes, as well as Garrett Love, a candidate for the Kansas House of Representative, who recently defeated incumbent Melvin Neufeld.
The nominees, all Republicans, visited with the audience at the Depot before making brief statements.
The Liberal stop was part of the Kansas Republican Party’s Kansas Clean Sweep “Vote the Kansas Way” Bus Tour, which began last Wednesday in Wyandotte County and ended Saturday in Liberal. All together, the tour featured 21 stops in 18 cities in 17 counties.
Brownback was the first to address Saturday’s crowd, and he said his party is doing so well that it is even influencing the Democrats.
“We’re going for the clean sweep such that even liberals vote for us,” he said jokingly referring to the name of the town he was speaking in. “It’s up to you now. It’s less about the candidates at this point, more about you guys getting pumped up to vote.”
Brownback said Republicans have a good pre-election push, and things are looking good for Tuesday.
“We used to get beat by the Democrats in pre-election,” he said. “They would win the advance voting time period, and we win Election Day. Then, you’d split the results. This year, on advance voting, we’re up on nearly two to one of votes in the bank Republican to Democrat.”
This news received a round of applause from the crowd at the Depot. Brownback said Kansas is moving forward, and there is much ahead in terms of work for the state. He praised the work of local state representative Carl Holmes.
“I’m looking forward to working with Carl,” he said. “I think Carl’s got a few ideas that we can work with. We need oil and gas, ethanol and wind. We need all of it. I’m for all of the people. I’m for the coal-fired power plant. That’s a $3 million investment, and we would actually be able to move our wind energy up into the front range.”
Brownback then talked about an idea he has been pushing in Kansas – rural free enterprise zones.
“We’ve got 80 percent of our counties that are losing population,” he said. “If a county will partner with us, and we’re going to need to do this on a cost-share basis, we’ll buy down student loans for people to move into population-declining counties, and if you move in from out of state, income tax abatement for 10 years – no income taxes. I’m going to see if we can get more people from California moving back to Kansas.”
Brownback said Kansas has got to grow, and this is going to be his focus as governor.
“We’re going to focus on growing the state, improving education, protecting our families, reforming government,” he said. “We’re going to have to hold the cost of government down.”
Brownback said Friday’s USA Today gave Kansas the dubious distinction of being the third highest in terms of adding state employees last year. This, he said, is something that needs to be brought under control.
“We can’t keep doing that,” he said. “We’ve got to get our regulatory structure under control.”
Brownback said he and lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Colyer made a pledge after the August primary to visit all of the counties in the Sunflower State.
“I think we’ll be the first set of candidates in the modern gubernatorial age that has done this, but Seward County is the 105th,” Brownback said. “We are meeting our pledge here today in Liberal, and we saved the best for last.”
Brownback said he believes on Tuesday, Republicans will take back Congress.
“I think we’re going to get the House back. Senate, we could. It still looks difficult,” he said. “We’re going to gain a number of governorships. That means the House of Representatives is going to be the tip of the sphere of taking on the Obama agenda. They’re going to have to be some of the ones to defunct this move toward socialism. To do that, you’re going to need people that can really fight. This is going to be a difficult fight.”
Brownback then introduced Huelskamp, who said the ballots Americans cast on Tuesday will be vital to the future of the country.
“This is, I think without a doubt, in our generation, the most critical election we’ve faced in our entire generation,” he said. “Our Declaration of Independence, it says we have the ability and the responsibility to change the government to reflect our values. We have the duty. It is our duty. We are the first country in the history of the world that gave ourselves the authority to pick those that lead us.”
Huelskamp said many Republicans have looked at the state of the country and have made the decision to make a change.
“We weren’t the ones that put the current president in power,” he said. “We weren’t the ones that elected Nancy Pelosi, but we are the ones that are going to change this nation and change this state to reflect basic American values.”
Huelskamp said his first vote in Congress will be to elect a new speaker of the house.
“To make that happen, we have to make certain that we elect the folks that reflect and understand our conservative values,” he said. “We need to elect an attorney general by the name of Derek Schmidt who will take on the folks in Washington along with me.”
Huelskamp said Republicans represent a set of values of the majority of Americans.
“Our party, our platform, this ticket you see in front of you stands for opportunity, freedom and the American dream, and we’re going to change this country,” he said. “We can make a difference. We have to make a difference because this is the most important election of our lifetime.”
At the conclusion of Saturday’s stop, Brownback spoke, saying America is not what Democrats have made it out to be in recent years.
“I think America is much less a landmass than it is a set of ideas and thoughts and philosophies,” he said. “It’s about justice. It’s about freedom. It’s about faith, family and freedom. Generally, when our intangibles are increased, our country is improving. When you’re moving those in the right direction, things are doing better. When they’re moving in the wrong direction, we’re generally doing poorer. I’ve tried to, as a senator, represent you pushing things in the right direction.”
Brownback concluded by saying conservative values can be brought back to America, and this begins with Tuesday’s election.
“I believe in American exceptionalism,” he said. “This is an exceptional place. Kansas is its heart. We need to fight for what’s right. We need to go out to the polls, and afterwards, continue to push for our country. Pray for our country, and push for what’s right. Take our nation back.”