WSU hosts debate for 4th Congressional District candidates

TJ Rigg

Four people, including the incumbent, are vying for Congressman Mike Pompeo’s seat in the House of Representatives to represent the 4th District of Kansas in Congress.

The four candidates, Pompeo, a Republican, Democrat Dan Giroux, Independent Miranda Allen and Libertarian Gordon Bakken took the debate stage Monday night at Wichita State’s Hughes Metropolitan Complex. The debate is, so far, the only debate scheduled for the candidates. The WSU Political Science Club and Luzzati Lecture series sponsored the debate.

Tim Brown of KAKE Channel 10 moderated the debate; which consisted of opening remarks, comments about various topics including immigration, healthcare, and the economy and closing remarks. Questions by the audience were not permitted.

Each candidate spent the debate largely speaking beliefs held by their respective parties.

Bakken started the debate saying the federal government does “way too much.” He said he’s read the U.S. Constitution to understand the role of the federal government.

“There’s a list in there, and it’s an amazingly short list, of the things the federal government is supposed to do,” Bakken said. “And if that was all the federal government actually tried to do, being a congressman would be a fairly simple job, and I think even Pompeo could handle it.”

Bakken said the primary problem with the federal government is it tries to take on too much.

“They screw up half the things they tackle anyway,” he said.

Allen argued passionately against the two-party system. She said she is sick of “politics as usual” and “the government working for special interests and big money donors.”

“Sometimes, politics as usual gets so wrapped up in their own survival,” Allen said. “Republicans versus Democrats, them versus us, that we forget that we are all truly Americans and we are all in this together.”

Allen added Congress has gotten away with partisan bickering for “far too long” and that changes need to happen in November.

She also did not hesitate to call out Pompeo and Gov. Sam Brownback for tax cuts for certain businesses made in 2012.

“I think the tax cuts that were done by Sam Brownback in 2012 have been devastating to our state,” she said. “And this is the same Brownback/Pompeo agenda that Mike would like to export nationwide. I couldn’t stand still and allow that to happen.”

Giroux also did not hold back on attacking Pompeo and Brownback.

“When Mr. Pompeo came into office in 2010 and 2011, and he ran along with Mr. Brownback, he promised he wasn’t going to bring you jobs, he promised you he was going to bring you an environment where jobs flourish,” Giroux said. “Well, he’s created a highway that goes one way out of the state of Kansas. That’s not right.”

Pompeo defended his record by saying he has worked across the aisle when he wanted to support issues important to Kansans.

“I’m running to represent you in Kansas in the House of Representatives because I work for Kansas,” Pompeo said. “I’ve done so effectively.”

Pompeo added how he understands what opportunity and freedom are all about, and said he’s worked hard to make sure every Kansan has those rights. He said he wants to see more Kansas in Washington.

“We need a heck of a lot more Kansas in Washington and a heck of a lot less Washington in Kansas,” he said.

 Giroux said to change Washington, voters have to change the type of person voters send to Washington in elections.

“(There’s been) too much partisanship, too much bickering, too much gridlock and the work of the American people is just not getting done,” he said.

Allen echoed Giroux’s statements, saying Congress can’t get anything done because it is too busy bickering. She added Pompeo is more interested in his donors.

Candidates were also asked about which candidate they support for president in the election. Bakken said Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson can “compete well” against Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Allen said voters are not going to allow candidates to hide behind party labels and did not endorse a particular candidate. Giroux called the candidate list “problematic” and added he will work whoever is elected president. Pompeo announced his support for Trump.

While Pompeo defended his record, all of his challengers agreed change needs to happen in who serves Kansas in the 4th Congressional District.

“It’s time for a change,” Giroux said. “Kansas has great possibilities. We can be the world, we can build the airplanes that take you from point A to point B and we can provide energy for the world.”