Independent gubernatorial candidate Greg Orman said people responded to the Kansas State Fair debate in Hutchinson by exchanging T-shirts endorsing Kris Kobach for gear proclaiming political loyalty to Orman.
Orman, who is mounting an independent challenge to Republican nominee Kobach, Democratic nominee Laura Kelly and two other candidates, said he is ready for more debates. That is where he can go toe-to-toe with major party candidates and show Kansans he has skills and experience to manage state government in a new way.
“We have just now had two debates and a couple gubernatorial forums. Every time Kansans get exposed to our vision for the state, I think we make progress,” Orman said during an interview with The Topeka Capital-Journal’s editorial advisory board.
Orman said surveys portraying him as far behind Kelly and Kobach didn’t accurately depict contours of the general election race. Polling performed by EMC Research for the Orman campaign shows he possesses a high favorability rating, which Kobach lacks, and that he is in the middle of a three-way contest.
“What we’re facing is this psychological barrier of people believing that an independent can’t win,” Orman said. “We need to get some momentum coming out of these debates. People will start gravitating to our campaign. That will particularly be the case if we start seeing the two major party candidates take off the gloves and start running attack ads against each other.”
“The visions are pretty clear here,” he said. “Kris Kobach wants to cut the government, cut taxes. Really starve the government and return to Sam Brownback. Laura Kelly has talked about a whole litany of things she wants to spend money on. The only way she’s going to pay for it is with higher taxes.”
He said he was interested in “better government” rather than bloated taxes and starvation budgets.
An independent governor will be able to take courageous steps that neither party would view as an acceptable risk, Orman said. A victory by Kelly in November will result in state government gridlock, he said, because the GOP won’t allow her to have a political win during the next four years.
Orman said the new Kansas governor had to inspire young adults to help build an economic future in the state by implementing a proactive vision of business, education and infrastructure investment that didn’t follow the worn path taken by Democrats and Republicans. The state has waged a fruitless jobs war with Missouri in the Kansas City area that must end, he said.
“This is going to be a decade of doing things more effectively, more thoughtfully, more efficiently before we are really able to turn around a couple decades of what has been a decline in Kansas,” he said.
The state needs to take advantage of sitting in the center of the country and become a manufacturing hub that uses transportation capacity to quickly draw raw materials in and move finished products out, he said.
“Most people in Kansas intuitively know something has gone wrong over the last eight years, but if you look at the trends in Kansas, we have had two decades of bad numbers,” he said. “Both sides have had opportunities to fix things. We can’t keep pulling answers from one of two failed playbooks.”
Orman said he would expand Medicaid eligibility, reduce the penalty for possession of marijuana to a traffic ticket, maintain the in-state tuition rate paid by children of illegal immigrants and invest in scholarships for people who want to seek technical certifications.