Topeka The deadlock over the federal budget nearly kept U.S. Rep. Jim Slattery, D-Kan., from coming back to Kansas to wage his re-election campaign.
On Tuesday, with a week remaining before the general election, Slattery returned to the 2nd District of northeast Kansas to oppose Scott Morgan, a Lawrence Republican.
Slattery said he was in Kansas one other time in the past 30 days, and that was to honor former President Dwight Eisenhower.
In Slattery's absence, Morgan criticized him for "not facing voters." Morgan also dubbed the incumbent the "stealth candidate," a play on Slattery's opposition to continued funding of the B-2 "stealth bomber," which is touted as being undetectable by conventional radar.
"I think it's unfortunate that Jim Slattery has been hiding in Washington," Morgan said recently.
SLATTERY said Tuesday in Topeka that voters in the district understand that budget matters forced him to remain in the nation's capital.
"I don't think they'd want me to fold my tent until the job was done, and it wasn't done until 3 o'clock in the morning" Sunday, he said.
After months of debate, Congress passed a budget package designed to decrease the federal deficit.
Morgan has repeatedly lashed out at Slattery for declining to debate him at public forums in the district's 13 counties.
"It would've been humanly impossible for me to do that without a private jet,'' he said. "And I don't have one."
Slattery said he wasn't ducking joint appearances. The two candidates have three TV debates scheduled this week, he said.
IRONICALLY, Slattery criticized his 1982 general election opponent for refusing to debate him throughout the district.
At that time, Slattery said: "My opponent is refusing to face me, toe-to-toe, in an old-fashioned debate in all the 13 counties."
He said the situation was different in 1982, because the House seat was open and neither candidate had a congressional schedule.
Slattery said Morgan, running his first campaign for political office, should have taken advantage of his absence.
"Obviously, he's had the opportunity to take the field by himself. I would consider that an advantage," Slattery said.