WSU alumnus hopes to replace Pat Roberts as next Kansas Republican senator

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WSU alumnus hopes to replace Pat Roberts as next Kansas Republican senator

Wichita native Bryan Pruitt is running for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts next year. Pruitt went to North High School and received his graduate degree in public administration from Wichita State.

Wichita native Bryan Pruitt is running for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts next year. Pruitt went to North High School and received his graduate degree in public administration from Wichita State.

Khánh Nguyễn

Wichita native Bryan Pruitt is running for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts next year. Pruitt went to North High School and received his graduate degree in public administration from Wichita State.

Khánh Nguyễn

Khánh Nguyễn

Wichita native Bryan Pruitt is running for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts next year. Pruitt went to North High School and received his graduate degree in public administration from Wichita State.

Bryan Pruitt has lived in Wichita almost all his life.

 A graduate of Wichita High School North, Pruitt was raised by his parents, a USD259 school teacher and a traveling salesman.

 His interest in politics took root in high school, where he participated in debate and student council.

 “Politics came early in my blood,” Pruitt said.

 When Republican Senator Pat Roberts announced earlier this year that he plans to retire in 2020, Pruitt saw it as an opportunity and moved back to Kansas to begin his bid for Senate.

 He said the race is a must win for Republicans.

“The Republican Party is at an inflection point,” Pruitt said. “If Republicans don’t keep the seat in the Senate, there’s a very real possibility that Democrats can win . . . the Senate back.

“Which, being a Republican, that’s sort of a nightmare scenario.”

After graduating from high school, Pruitt went to Washington D.C. to earn an undergraduate degree at the Catholic University of America.

He then returned to Wichita, where he received his master’s in public administration from Wichita State, but ultimately moved back to the nation’s capital for work.

He says he moved back to Kansas ahead of the 2020 election to reestablish residency and “to make sure we had the time and energy to introduce ourselves to Kansas Republicans and to really make the case for a Bryan Pruitt candidacy.” 

One of Pruitt’s campaign platforms is support for free speech on college campuses, an issue he said is relevant to students.

“I’m very worried about the prevalence of younger people not wanting to ever be offended by people who disagree with them,” Pruitt said. “Across the nation, there’s a prevalence of people believing . . . that if someone else disagrees with them about something, that somehow that is hate speech or somehow they’re, quote, ‘triggered.’”

Pruitt is against free speech zones on college campuses, which are designated areas for First Amendment activities such as protests and public forums.

WSU has five of these zones on its main campus.

“They are dangerous,” Pruitt said. “The fact is, the whole campus should be a free speech zone.”

Pruitt said he hopes to advocate for students’ free speech in the Senate.

“You stand up for them, and you say, ‘not today, no, that student has a right to express their opinion,” Pruitt said. “We need more involvement from young people, not less.”

Pruitt said he also wants to use his campaign to change the way Republicans talk to women about abortion.

“I’m staunchly pro-life,” Pruitt said. “I support restrictions on abortion, but we’re going to talk about it in a different way.

“Too often, Republicans sound like they’re lecturing to women on this issue or that they are attempting to control womens’ bodies,” he said. “We are pro-life, but we’re going to listen to what women have to say about this issue.”

Currently, six Republicans, including Kris Kobach and Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, are running for the US Senate seat. Four Democrats are also running for the seat, including former U.S. attorney Barry Grissom.

The primary election for the Senate seat will be held on Aug. 4, 2020.