If Kansas keeps sending the same politicians to Washington, they’ll keep getting the same results, Greg Orman said.
Orman, an Independent candidate for U.S. Senate, visited the Herald Thursday morning to discuss his campaign to not only get on the Kansas ballot, but to serve as a problem solver in the nation’s capital, he said.
“People are looking for an alternative,” Orman, Olathe, said. “They want something other than what they’ve gotten over the past dozen years or so, which has just led to partisan gridlock and to Washington not getting anything accomplished.”
Typical Washington politicians from the major political parties are more worried about getting re-elected than finding solutions to the countries problems, he said. Such major party contenders for the U.S. Senate seat include incumbent Republican Pat Roberts, Milton Wolf, a Republican Kansas City-area radiologist, and Democrat Chad Taylor, Shawnee County district attorney.
To challenge the winners of the Republican and Democratic primaries for the Senate spot, Orman must gather 5,000 signatures of registered voters by Aug. 4, the day before the primary elections, to have his name listed on the Nov. 4 ballot as an independent candidate, he said. Orman has received more than half the signatures he needs, he said, with the names listed coming from 85 of the 105 counties. Orman plans to make an appearance at the Franklin County Fair next week, he said.
“At this point, it’s a matter of when, not if, we’re going to get the signatures we need to get on the ballot,” Orman said. “A big part of it is just getting out and meeting people and getting our message out there. So far, it has been very well received.”
Federal politics have become so partisan the Republican Party has splintered itself, he said. As an independent candidate, Orman said, he would be forced to make decisions based on improving the country rather than just worrying about getting re-elected.
“One of the popular myths is that we can get spending under control just by engaging in gridlock in Washington,” Orman said. “The only way we’re going to solve those problems is coming together, cooperate, use fax and common sense to solve problems.”
Orman, who classified himself as “fiscally responsible and socially tolerant,” made a career as a businessman and entrepreneur, he said, noting he founded a company in 2004 to help grow small companies that are now thriving today. His experience turning around such businesses would serve him well in Washington, he said.
“I’ve basically spent my life as a business man — balancing budgets every day — the kind of experience we need in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
While some issues can and should be solved by federal elected leaders, Orman said, others are better decided at the state level. One such example would determining minimum wage, he said. Larger cities and more populous regions of the country might need a higher minimum wage than Kansas, Orman explained.
“It’s interesting that we have a federal minimum wage because we have such cost disparity throughout the country,” he said. “I think that ends up being an issue better addressed at the local level. Places like Seattle, Washington, San Francisco, New York City, I can understand why that debate is a real debate because the cost of living there is so much higher.”
But when it came to firearms, Orman said he didn’t mind federal restrictions aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and people with mental health issues. A registered gun owner who needed to get a background check to purchase his personal firearms, Orman said, he would be in favor of developing background checks that eliminated loopholes and processed requests in a timely manner.
“[Credit card companies] are able to authenticate a transaction in a millisecond. We should be able to figure out how to go through background checks at gun shows and not have it affect their ability to transact commerce,” he said. “But I think it’s absolutely inappropriate to have loopholes where felons or people of mental illnesses have the ability to go get a gun. I don’t think it makes us any safer, and I don’t think it infringes on my rights as a gun owner.”
Orman pointed to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as an issue that highlighted the political gridlock in Washington.
“[Washington] passed the Affordable Care Act in 2009. We had a health care affordability issue then, and we have a health care affordability issue now,” Orman said. “Over the past five years, instead of working together to bend the health care cost curve and help Americans address issues like stagnant wages, and our position in the world and competitiveness, which are all directly related to health care affordability, [Washington has] just been positioning and bickering. ... It’s not a Republican problem or a Democratic problem. It’s problem with both parties that neither of them seem committed to solving problems.”
Moving young people to Kansas to help stimulate the economy was one of several issues on which Orman wants to focus, he said. Enticing youths to the Sunflower State, however, can only be done by improving the state’s image on the national stage, he said, and electing an independent to the U.S. Senate would be a good start.
“I think Kansas can send a strong message if they elect me, that can show Kansas is open minded,” Orman said. “[Kansas] can send a problem solver to Washington, D.C., not just someone who will bicker.”
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