So why can Alan win? What is different that would make one feel confident that it is at least a possibility? It starts with the basic fact that Alan has run before. He first ran in a Republican primary during 2014, where he represented sanity against the incumbent at the time, Tim Huelskamp. Two years later, he ran as an Independent, where it’s a challenge to build up a strong base of support. And today, as a Democrat, he’s running in a year when he and the party are both extremely energized and focused on change. LaPolice knows the district, has contacts all across the area, and is well versed in how to successfully campaign in a district as large and varied as the Big First. And his background growing up on a farm and serving in the United States Army should give voters confidence in both his care for our state and his dedication to public service.
Another big difference: Alan is raising money, something that earlier candidates largely failed to do. That has created outside interest and, in a year where the balance of Congress is in question and many voters are seeking a check on Presidential power, the First District of Kansas is getting some real attention. And for good reason. Many in the district’s key industries have become rather uneasy with their current voice in Congress. It’s clear that, in his race to embrace the Trump Administration and its agenda on issues like trade and immigration, Congressman Marshall lost touch with the voters of the district. As you may recall, he was delivered a “wake-up call” by the Kansas Farm Bureau during the primaries. They initially declined an endorsement of him, essentially telling him to, “remember who got you here in the first place.” This act alone opened some doors that normally would have locked us out. After finally receiving some engagement and assurances from Marshall, Farm Bureau eventually released a lukewarm endorsement. But the overarching message is clear: When your Congressman has to be reminded of who he represents during an election year, the people deserve an alternative who understands their issues and will work hard on their behalf. Alan understands the needs of the district and has traveled across the Big First listening to industry and community leaders who are telling him they want change. He’s very smart, articulates his message well, and brings energy and enthusiasm everywhere he goes. In a nutshell, Alan is a great candidate.
As I alluded to earlier, this race can help the Democratic Party as well. It is a simple fact that areas ignored by political parties shift over time heavily to the other party. For Kansas Democrats, this is why we have so little strength in rural counties. It is why we lose statewide races that we should have won. But it is not just statewide races, legislative and local races are also impacted. In my 50 years of political activity, we have gone from being frequently competitive to all-too-frequently not even having a candidate to support. When I was in the Legislature, we had a sprinkling of legislative Democrats from rural areas throughout the state. Today, many years later, we have none. This trend cannot continue if we have any real desire to be competitive and equally represented, which is vitally important for our system of democracy to work.
Helping Alan LaPolice can make the Democratic Party stronger across the state and put us in position to really make a positive difference for Kansas. This is particularly true at a time when so much of the Republican Party is tied to the far, far right. We have seven weeks left to help elect Alan LaPolice in the Big First. Our hard work will make a significant investment for a better future.