Topeka Dennis Hawver doesn't care if people get high. He doesn't even care if they're stoned at work, so long as they do their jobs properly.
Hawver's platform as the Libertarian Party candidate for governor includes a promise to pardon all nonviolent drug offenders, release them from prison and reduce the size of the corrections system.
He also proposes to cut state government in half in four years, so taxes can be lowered. He also would abolish the state income tax.
As a Libertarian, Hawver said during a recent interview, he's committed to the idea of stopping "nanny government." People should be free, he said, to live their own lives.
"I'll just own up to all the indiscretions, which are legion," Hawver said of himself. "Anybody who knows me knows that I was stoned during most of law school."
Hawver, a 59-year-old Ozawkie attorney, argues that most Kansans would identify with his party instead of only about 9,300 if they knew what it stood for.
"It's up to us to make decisions and live with them. When you make a bad decision, you learn," he said. "I think we're on the verge of what I call 'nanny government,' where they will wipe your nose and kiss you good night."
Hawver said he would spend the next four years educating people about his party after this year's race with Republican Tim Shallenburger, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius and Reform Party nominee Ted Pettibone.
|Dennis HawverParty: LibertarianAge: 59Hometown: OzawkieEducation: Topeka High School, 1961; bachelor's degree in history, Washburn University, 1965; law degree, Washburn University, 1974.Career: Served in the Air Force as a combat intelligence officer, 1966-71, leaving as a captain; began law practice, 1974; practiced law in Honolulu, 1985-93; returned to Kansas to practice law, 1993.Personal: He and his wife, Jolayne, have six grown children.|
"The next time, four years from now, I'm going to actually try to get elected, because I'm going to build my own grass-roots system, I've decided," he said. "I'm after the disgusted vote."
Hawver, a Topeka native and Vietnam veteran who left the Air Force in 1971 as a captain, has been an attorney for 28 years.
He left Kansas during the 1980s for Honolulu, practicing law there before spending some time sailing around the South Pacific on a 31-foot sailboat.
He returned to the state in 1993. He had been an active Democrat before leaving but wasn't pleased with the party when he returned.
"I still liked the people, but I looked at what Bill Clinton was doing to the Constitution and to the presidency, and I just couldn't throw in with it," Hawver said. "I finally decided that I was kind of a free market type, and so I became a Libertarian, and I like it."
Hawver argues that state government must be cut dramatically for its power to be held in check. He also said that Kansans needed much lower taxes so they could prepare for a coming economic depression.
"A client of mine said it really well. He said, 'Every night I go to sleep, and I feel like every morning when I wake up, I'm less free,"' Hawver said. "Government doesn't stand still. It constantly encroaches."
He'd limit social services to six months. He'd end the state's 10-year, $13.5 billion transportation program, providing money only to maintain existing highways. He'd give parents vouchers and allow them to pick their children's schools, so that public schools would have to compete.
And he'd fire half the state's 40,000 or so employees.
"If I were elected, there would be lots of howls," he said. "There would be lots of hue and cry of complaints."
As for drugs, he said efforts to prevent their use and sale had been expensive failures. He argued that such prohibitions eventually would end.
He said he would try to have exit interviews with each drug offender released from prison.
He imagined what he would tell them: "You'd better find something else to do, because the drug market is going to hell, because if I have my way, they'll be selling them at Walgreen's, and you can't compete."