Independent congressional hopeful Alan LaPolice shuns special interest endorsements and says he’s the one who can bring a voice of compromise to Washington, D.C.
The candidate was in Great Bend Thursday while making a swing through the western reaches of the massive, 66-county First Congressional District. His message – breaking the log jam in Congress will take fresh ideas from someone not bound by Republican or Democratic dogma.
“How do we solve this?” the Clyde resident said. “We elect people who actually serve people.”
LaPolice has his hands full. Running a shoe-string campaign, he faces Great Bend Republican Roger Marshall who handily defeated incumbent Tim Huelskamp in the August primary.
“It’s just me as the candidate running around and talking to people,” he said. He has one paid staff member, the rest are volunteers.
But, LaPolice, then running as a Republican, gave the first-term Huelskamp a scare when he garnered 45 percent of the votes in the 2014 primary.
LaPolice shrugs off Marshall receiving the endorsements of several major agricultural organizations, such as Farm Bureau. It was these blessings that helped power Marshall past Huelskamp who had been kicked off the House ag committee.
“I am a lifetime farmer, not a quasi-farmer,” he said. His family farm earned the Century Farm Award and he still works on that same land.
But, his not supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement cost him support in 2014. He maintains that he is pro free trade, but still thinks it’s a bad deal that relinquishes the sovereignty of Kansas ag producers.
“Fair trade is fair trade,” he said. “We export and import and they export and import.”
“I ran on the ticket of compromise two years ago,” he said. “I said let’s get to work. Winning as an Independent give me credibility.”
In the meantime, the stagnation has only gotten worse, and Republicans and Democrats are even more bitterly divided, he said.
“Then, here’s me,” he said. “I don’t carry the ‘R’ brand, so I can work with Republicans, but I can also work with the ‘Ds’ because I speak a common language. I don’t cross the aisle, I’m in the aisle.”
He believes there are enough legislators in Washington in both parties who want to accomplish something. His goal would be to form a bi-partisan caucus to move legislation.
Sadly, the perception of the Congress among the American people is a negative one, he said, adding they have no reason to think otherwise.
A key example of this that impacts Kansas is the five-year Farm Bill up for renewal in two years, he said. It took three years to pass the last one.
“We have an overly regulatory environment that unfairly targets the middle class,” he said. Congress is in pockets of big banks and big business.
Although not running under the GOP banner, “I am the last of the true Republicans,” LaPolice said. He believes in fiscal responsibility, limited government and is stanchly pro-life.
What he sees in Topeka and Washington is the “worst fiscal responsibility I’ve ever seen. They are spending like drunken sailors.”
So, the national debt climbs and the regulatory mandates get more onerous. “The size and scope of government has increased under Republican stewardship.”
But, he harks back to the halcyon days of President Dwight Eisenhower. Wise infrastructure investments made then and the tax codes enacted at time helped make America a global super power, he said.
“We cultivated the largest middle,” he said. “We need to return to those.”
LaPolice wants to throw out current tax incentives and loop holes and start from scratch with new incentives. He has no problem with tax breaks, but said they have to make sense.
An Army veteran, LaPolice is appalled by the state of the nation’s national defense. “We don’t do defend anymore, we just occupy the Middle East in wars in which we don’t have clear objectives.”
This policy has caused terrorism to increase, he said. “We need to pull back and defend.”
As for the abortion debate, he has no doubt both Huelskamp and Marshall are pro-life. But, “I am pro-life, but I will never use it as a weapon to assault my opponent.”
He thinks the oft bitter Republican primary battle was one of the nastiest on record that spent more time on attacks than it did issues.
He also believes pro-life means life from the first to the last breath, adding that many people who toss this term around want children to be born but don’t care if they get taken care of after that.
Turning to the economic, recovery from the 2007 recession is underway, but many in Kansas haven’t felt it, he said. “We see it here when we look at Wall Street, but we don’t feel it here if we actually work because it hasn’t hit yet.”
But, under the present system, it won’t ever be felt here, he said. “The recovery is lopsided. It favors those who have access to legislation.”
LaPolice referred to laws that he says favor the financial sector over the middle class. Large companies have no incentive to pay their workers more or increase domestic production because of unbalanced trade and tax laws.
Gone are the days of true statesmen like Bob Dole and Tip O’Neill, he said. He strives to bring that back.
The father of three, LaPolice is a career educator and farmer, and Washington County native. He and his family live in Clyde, in Cloud County.