When Kathy Reece of Garden City slid into the seat next to Lynn Rogers, the running mate of Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly, he greeted her with warmth and a question.
“Have you voted yet?” he said.
The meet and greet at Traditions Sandwich and Soda Shop Monday afternoon was a one of many Rogers and Kelly had held across the state since Saturday, the final tour to constituents leading into the primaries.
“(It’s) kind of a last visit with people, as many as we can. And talk to them about getting out to vote … It’s coming down to the wire. We want everyone to get out and vote tomorrow,” Rogers said.
Rogers came in ready to listen and answer questions, but he said after spending the past few months touring the area, he didn’t think many new viewpoints would cross the fold-up table. Throughout the campaign, he said voters brought up the issues that mattered to them, from Medicaid expansion to school finance to refilling gutted state agencies. A universal theme, he said, was not being heard.
“What everybody was saying was ‘We don’t get listened to. Topeka doesn’t hear us.’ And so I heard that very early in the campaign but I’ve heard it over and over and over. It doesn’t matter where I’m at. Southeast, southwest, northeast, northwest. I mean, you could be five miles out of Topeka and people feel that way … We've got to do better,” Rogers said.
Aided by his background in agriculture, Rogers said Kelly would be the best candidate for western Kansas, particularly in regard to economic development. He said former Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax plan contributed to fewer state services in more rural areas, and poor infrastructure regarding roads and WiFi. As a running mate, he said he also brings knowledge of the education system to the table, due to his 16 years on the Wichita school board.
Rogers said he wanted to be an active lieutenant governor, should he and Kelly be elected.
“Our current lieutenant governor, and even (Gov. Jeff) Colyer, I didn’t meet him for like six months being in the capitol. So they’re not there everyday. Part of my job will be to interact with other legislators, but also getting out and visiting with rural communities, urban communities, having coffees like this on a regular basis to listen to business leaders, listen to individuals, so they don’t feel like the governor’s a stranger,” Rogers said.
Rogers sat in Traditions for nearly an hour, meeting only with Reece. As all candidates move into the final hours of the primaries, he said he and Kelly were prepping for what may lie ahead.
“… we’re ready to take on whoever the Republicans nominate tomorrow as well. You know, the real battle will start for the heart of the state on Wednesday. We’ll either go back to the Brownback years if we go with Colyer, or, what I tell people, we’ll go to Brownback on steroids if it’s (Kris) Kobach or we can rebuild and restore,” Rogers said.
Voters can visit Finney County polling places from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Registered voters must show photo ID and can check the county’s website to find nearby polling places.