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Archive for Sunday, October 27, 1996

BUSINESSMAN REACHING OUT TO NONVOTERS

October 27, 1996

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The Reform Party candidate for Bob Dole's former U.S. Senate seat is hoping to get support from people who usually don't vote.

While his political opponents are pointing to the importance of moderate voters, Donald Klaassen is taking his message to would-be revoluntionaries.

"Until we taxpayers get mad and take control, we're going to continue to get fleeced," said Klaassen, Reform Party candidate for U.S. Senate.

The 56-year-old Wichita businessman is a self-described underdog in the election, in which he's vying as a Reform Party candidate against two familiar names in Kansas politics.

Although he admits he has little chance of knocking off Sam Brownback and Jill Docking, his GOP and Democrat foes, respectively, Klaassen said he believes it was important for him to be on the ballot.

"Our mission is to broaden the debate and get some very important issues -- campaign finance reform and the trade and budget deficits -- discussed,'' he said.

Klaassen, a lifelong Kansan and founding member of United We Stand America, is campaigning on a three-level platform that includes election reform, stiffer trade agreements and reduction in taxes.

A key ingredient of his platform is establishment of a national referendum voting system, which would enhance the representative system now used by Congress.

He foresees a national vote on whether to abolish the federal Department of Education, for example, and spread control of education to local governments.

The system is necessary, he said, because lobbyists have exerted control on politicians, leaving taxpayers without representation.

"We've got a system where special interests have circumvented the entire process," he said.

Along with lobbyists, Klaassen is targeting taxes. He said the average family paid 43 percent of its income in direct taxes, a burden that will nearly double in another 45 years because of government programs.

"We're on automatic pilot to complete socialism," he said.

While Docking and Brownback are courting Republican moderates, Klaassen is pining for support from people who typically do not vote. He believes that the influence of lobbyists has eroded confidence in traditional candidates, and hopes voters who have shown apathy in previous elections will turn out for him.

But getting his message to voters hasn't been easy for him or any other Reform candidate, including the party's presidential candidate, Ross Perot. Following a national trend, state debate organizers have shut Klaassen out of debates.

"It's interesting to me," he said. "My feeling about it is that both majority candidates are scared to death that Perot's going to bring up issues like campaign finance reform and international trade."

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