John Doll believes he and Independent gubernatorial candidate Greg Orman are the perfect medicine for what is ailing the Kansas political environment.
Whether it’s Democrats being out of touch with western Kansas, or conservative Republicans like GOP gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach and their extremist views, Doll, who is Orman’s lieutenant governor running mate, says neither is fit to lead the state’s executive branch.
Doll, I-Garden City, says the ticket of he and Orman are a much-needed alternative, a point he did his best to drive home Wednesday as he hosted a meet-and-greet at Phil’s Grill in downtown Garden City.
Republicans and Democrats — both nationally and in Kansas — are dealing with splits within their ranks, said Doll, adding that he feels he and Orman best represent the traditional values of Kansans.
Doll said he has spoken to many Kansans who say they can’t see themselves voting for either Secretary of State Kobach or the Democrats’ nominee, State Sen. Laura Kelly.
“I’ve heard this, ‘Thank goodness you guys are running because you give us an alternative to Kobach because there’s no way I could vote for a Democrat,'” Doll said.
Doll reminded those in the crowd that he once registered and ultimately ran for office as a Democrat. But he became disillusioned with the party to the left when regulations put in place during the Sebelius administration ultimately stood in the way of Sunflower’s coal plant expansion in Finney County. That project, he said, not only would have brought cleaner coal and greater energy production to the state, but could have helped the state achieve a more diversified energy portfolio through wind and solar projects.
Doll told the audience that while Kobach’s politics are “crazy,” he hasn’t forgotten the economic mistakes made when the state last elected a Democrat as governor.
One big difference between the Orman-Doll and Kelly-Rogers tickets, Doll said, comes down to he and Orman “despise regulations.”
“I have as many concerns with Laura being governor as I do Kris being governor,” Doll said in a separate interview after Wednesday’s meet and greet. “We’re a rural area out here. Regulations killed us. What Sebelius did to us out (in western Kansas), and then she never came back out here after the election in ’06. You never saw her again. The Democrats don’t care about us out here, in my opinion.”
Doll, who was elected to the State Senate as a Republican before changing to an Independent earlier this year to join Orman on the gubernatorial ticket, outlined Wednesday some of he and Orman's top priorities. They support expanding Medicaid in the state to help rural hospitals. They believe legalizing industrial hemp will give Kansas farmers an alternative, useful crop that would help diversify and grow the Kansas economy. He expressed his support for medical marijuana in Kansas, although he’s not ready to support recreational use of the drug.
He said Kansas teachers need to be paid more, and the Legislature should have more power to determine educational funding.
Doll briefly strayed into national politics by attacking Kobach’s extreme views on immigration, saying the Kansas economy — particularly in western Kansas — relies on immigrant labor. While he agrees the nation needs strong, secure borders, he said it also needs a clearer path to citizenship.
Turning his attention to Orman, Doll told the audience that with his intelligence, work ethic and business acumen, he simply was the most-qualified candidate.
“If we believe government should be run like a business, I would want a businessman running it,” Doll said about Orman.
In a separate interview after the meet-and-greet, Doll spoke about recent developments in the gubernatorial race, to include Democrats challenging and seeking to invalidate more than 6,000 signatures on the petition Orman filed to gain a spot on the November ballot. The State Objections Board will be reviewing that challenge on Thursday.
“I think they’re desperate,” Doll said of the Democrats. “They see us … we’re gonna win. They don’t think they can beat us in November, so they want us out of the race.”
Then on Monday, House Majority Leader Don Hineman, a moderate Republican from Dighton, wrote an email to more than two dozen fellow moderates discouraging them from publicly supporting anyone else in the governor’s race other than Kobach.
In the email, Hineman warned that support for Orman or Kelly, “could well be a career-ending move for anyone who chose to do so.”
Doll said he was astonished by Hineman’s warning, and saw it as a threat to moderate Republicans.
“Where Don can come out and tell his fellow legislators what they can and cannot do is way out of bounds,” Doll said.
As for the dynamic within the race, Doll said he sees he and Orman as more of a threat to Kobach than Kelly, at least where it comes to swaying moderate voters.
“I see us taking so many more votes away from Kobach than we’d take from Kelly, and the reason being that a lot of our moderate Republicans cannot vote for a Democrat,” Doll said.
Contact Brett Riggs at email@example.com.