County officials dish up breakfast for the GOP
by Rick Nichols
Opinions were plentiful Saturday morning in Perry when the Jefferson County Republican Central Committee hosted the latest installment of Eggs & Issues at American Legion Post 142.
Roughly 100 people showed up for breakfast, which included biscuits and gravy and egg casserole, then stuck around to hear from three official candidates, Dr. Milton Wolf, Beverly Gossage and State Rep. Ramon Gonzalez Jr., and four presumed candidates, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Ken Selzer.
First up was Wolf, who wants the senator’s job, and he wasted little time in telling his listeners that he thought Roberts had been in the Senate “too long” and needed to be replaced. He also bashed the current occupant of the White House, President Barack Obama, saying, “I think he’s the worst president in history.”
On the other hand, the Leawood radiologist had high praise for Tea Party conservatives Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and said he remained “optimistic” about the country’s future. “I believe that America truly can be saved,” he remarked.
After proudly pointing out the three pictures on a table to his left, pictures of members of his family who were associated with The Independent for many years, Roberts eventually worked his way around to the Affordable Care Act, readily referred to as “Obamacare” in Republican circles. “That’s been a sorry tale,” he commented. According to him, the federal government has spent roughly $2 trillion to provide health insurance for the estimated 47 million Americans who are uninsured but, at least so far, is only seeing minimal results.
Roberts also mentioned the controversy surrounding the decision by the Internal Revenue Service to audit the records of certain groups seeking tax-exempt status, many of which are linked to conservative causes. “I’m convinced this will go to the White House,” he told his audience, promising, “We will get to the bottom of it.”
The senator also touched on the current flap over the recent designation of the lesser prairie chicken as an endangered species. He argued that the only reason the bird was in trouble was because of the ongoing drought.
Gonzalez reported that the Legislature had been dealing with a number of Second Amendment issues since the current session began in January and that he had received many phone calls about the subject of renewable energy. He also mentioned the push by some to have Kansas become part of the newly-created Interstate Health Care Compact in order to avoid the requirements of the ACA. “It sends a signal to the administration that Kansas doesn’t approve of Obamacare,” he observed.
Jenkins was quick to criticize the president’s budget for the next fiscal year and equally quick to promote the one her party is proposing. “I’m proud of the budget the conservatives drafted,” she remarked. According to her, the Democrats are in favor of $1.8 trillion in additional spending, an amount the country can’t afford. “This (if the Obama budget is ultimately approved) ends badly for the United States,” she said.
The state’s senior member of the House of Representatives also weighed in on the IRS controversy as well as the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius, the former Kansas Governor, as Secretary of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for implementing the ACA. “There’s no one who can administer this thing and make it work,” Jenkins suggested.
Selzer introduced himself to his listeners and encouraged them to give him due consideration when they go to the polls to help pick the next Insurance Commissioner. “We (he and his supporters) really want to bring good business experience to a department that hasn’t had it in years,” he commented. He also appealed to the so-called “base” by telling everyone he was very much “prolife.”
Likewise, Gossage touted her qualifications for the office and, like others before her, made it a point to take aim at the ACA. “You’ll have no idea how bad it is until you see it,” she told the audience. She also said she had been called “the Kris Kobach of health care,” a label she considered a compliment.
And speaking of Kobach, he had much to say about what he described as “the erosion of state authority,” at one point declaring, “We at the state level have to push back.”
The first-term secretary of state, revered by some and despised by others, also addressed the prairie chicken question from the perspective of state’s rights versus the power of the federal government, gave “Obamacare” the thumbs down as expected, and applauded his office’s efforts to adequately monitor the election process. “Kansas is now the model in how you secure elections,” he boasted.
Remarks by the candidates were periodically interrupted long enough to auction off some of the items displayed on a table that could be had simply by outbidding everyone else in the room (if one was of a mind to). The offerings included a necklace, a bowl, an apron, a decorative cookie basket, political memorabilia, pies and cinnamon rolls. Rolls purportedly made by Gonzalez sparked a good-natured bidding “war” between one of the candidates for Insurance Commissioner and the spouse of the other candidate.
The money raised through the auction will be used to support various candidates.
On hand to help dish out breakfast were County Clerk Linda Buttron, Register of Deeds Delia Heston, County Attorney Jason Belveal and Sheriff Jeff Herrig. Also present were commissioners Richard Malm, Wayne Ledbetter and Lynn Luck and County Counselor Josh Ney, who also serves as the state’s Securities Commissioner.
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