Credentials are an issue in the Roberts-Thompson race for the U.S. Senate.
The race to succeed U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., features two major candidates with widely divergent backgrounds in Kansas politics.
The Republican in the race is a veteran of Congress, U.S. Rep. Pat Roberts, Dodge City, who represents the big 1st Congressional District.
Roberts, who was first elected in 1980, is well-known throughout western Kansas and touts his experience, including his chairmanship for the last two years of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.
The Democrat in the race is State Treasurer Sally Thompson, Lawrence, who was first elected in 1988.
Two other candidates in the race are Reform Party candidate Mark S. Marney, 42, Wichita, and Libertarian Steve Rosile, a Kansas University third-year law school student.
Thompson, who is in the middle of her second four-year term, has run two successful statewide races. She touts her experience in financial matters as a certified public accountant.
So far, credentials have been the major focus of the debates Roberts and Thompson have had during recent weeks.
Roberts has suggested that Thompson has mismanaged the Municipal Investment Pool and was responsible for $20 million in losses in the fund. Thompson has said the state has received $700 million in interest earnings while she was treasurer.
Thompson has also attacked Roberts' right to claim Dodge City as his home. Roberts worked as a congressional aide in Washington, D.C., for several years before taking office in 1981. He has listed a post office box as his address.
Thompson said that Roberts made eight trips to Kansas in 1995 and had to stay in a hotel because he doesn't live in the state.
The following are some questions on the issues facing the next Congress:
What is the best way to balance the budget?
Roberts: "Balancing the budget requires less federal spending. My farm reform saves taxpayers $10 billion and my food stamp reforms save $23 billion."
Thompson: Reducing spending and streamlining government. Her plan includes congressional reform, cutting waste and fraud in Medicare, tightening tax loopholes, ending special interest subsidies and making U.S. allies pay for defense costs.
Rosile: "Reduce the federal government in size dramatically and return it to its constitutional boundaries."
Marney: "Every program needs to be evaluated on the basis of need, efficiency and effectiveness. Some programs should be eliminated. Some departments will need to be eliminated. Some will need to be consolidated. Some will need to exist on a smaller budget. Some may even need a larger budget."
Is the federal government too big?
Roberts: "Yes, but the Republican Congress is making progress in reducing mandates, allowing Americans to keep more of what they earn such as with my Freedom to Farm bill."
Thompson: "Yes. I support expanding opportunity, not bureaucracy. As a CPA, I know how to audit programs for efficiency and cost effectiveness. ... I cut my Treasurer's office operating budget 4 percent since taking office."
Marney: "The federal government is not only too big, it is too corrupt, too wasteful, too intrusive and too arrogant."
Do you support federal restrictions on abortion?
Roberts: "I oppose federal funding for abortion except in the cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother."
Thompson: "As a mother and grandmother, I do not believe the government should be involved in a decision that is between a woman, her doctor, her family and her God -- not between her and her member of Congress."
Rosile: "No. I do not support taxpayer funds for funding abortions."
Do you support easing or stiffening regulations on access to guns?
Roberts: "We need tougher penalties for criminals. Second, we have the technology for an instant background check of those buying weapons. We need to use that."
Thompson: "I would never vote to infringe upon law-abiding citizens or hunters' rights. I support background checks and a ban on assault weapons."
Rosile: "I would feel safer with an automatic weapon and 500 rounds of ammunition in every house in America. Proper gun handling and marksmanship training should be taught in school. The Libertarian Party supports the 2nd Amendment without any restrictions. Citizens must be able to defend themselves"
Marney: "I would favor legislation that would restrict the availability of fire arms to people with a history of any type of violent behavior."
List your top three congressional priorities:
Roberts: "Balanced budget, tax reform, jobs -- incentives for economic growth."
Thompson: "1. Balance the budget. I support the Balanced Budget Amendment.
"2. Reform Congress. Target pension reform and special interest's influence.
"3. Promoting economic development and access to education and job training."
Rosile: "Abolish personal income and capital gains taxes. Abolishing the federal reserve and restoring constitutionally correct money and currency of precious metals and redeemable notes. And ending the drug wars by legalization and regulation, thereby stopping the corruption of law enforcement and public officials and stopping drug prohibition-caused violence from destroying our society."
Marney: "1. Balancing the budget and paying down the debt.
"2. Campaign finance and lobbying reform.
"3. Creating a new paperless tax system that would require neither confession nor confiscation of one's income."