A Lawrence Republican officially announced his candidacy for Congress today and immediately pressed the attack on incumbent Jim Slattery.
"Congress is out of control, and after eight years, Jim Slattery is very much part of the problem," said Scott Morgan in announcing his candidacy this morning in Lawrence.
Morgan, 32, who has been chief counsel for Gov. Mike Hayden since 1989, made his announcement to a small gathering of supporters and media at the Eldridge Hotel. Lawrence is one of five campaign stops Morgan was scheduled to make today. The other cities are Leavenworth, Topeka, Manhattan and Junction City.
Morgan said Slattery has been in an ideal position to do something about the budget, spending the last four years on the House Budget Committee, but doesn't have anything to show for it.
MORGAN ALSO accused Slattery of viewing the congressional seat as a consolation prize.
"Jim Slattery wants to be running for governor. Everybody knows that," Morgan said. "He just lacked the courage to try."
Morgan, who spent more than six years in Washington working for Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum, said he doesn't think Slattery should talk about raising taxes until Congress makes "real cuts in spending."
Morgan acknowledged that he faces an uphill fight.
"I know I'm the underdog," he said. "Don't tell me I shouldn't try, don't tell me Jim Slattery is the best we can expect."
Morgan said he's not pinning all of the blame for the federal budget woes on Slattery or Democrats. But "the people of northeast Kansas have one voice and it's his," he said. "I see no evidence that he's out there trying to make a difference."
One of the onlookers today at the Eldridge was Mark Creamer, who filed his candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District seat last week. Creamer, who advocates the legalization of marijuana, spoke briefly with Morgan before today's announcement but didn't ask any questions afterwards.
"I THINK drugs are an issue," Morgan said. "I think the one he's making (legalization) is not an issue."
Creamer is scheduled to be sentenced May 23 in Douglas County District Court on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. Creamer was arrested in September after lighting a marijuana cigarette in the Lawrence Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.
Morgan and Slattery acknowledged Friday that they had tried marijuana once, when they were college students.
Morgan earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kansas University in 1979 and spent a year working for Kassebaum in Washington, D.C., before returning to KU to attend law school.
AFTER EARNING his law degree in 1983, Morgan returned to Washington, where he initially served as a staff attorney for the U.S. Customs Service. That same year, he joined Dole's Senate Judiciary Committee staff as staff counsel for the subcommittee on courts.
Dole named Morgan to be the Senate's representative on the Federal Election Commission from 1985 to 1987. Morgan then spent a year and a half as chief counsel for Dole's presidential campaign.
He returned to Kansas in 1988 and became the director of federal affairs for Hayden. He also took on duties of the governor's chief counsel last year. Morgan said he will leave his job with the governor Thursday so he can devote his efforts full time to the campaign.
Morgan and his wife, Kathleen, have a 17-month-old daughter, Kelly.