Democrat Dan Lykins on Tuesday was in Lawrence repeating his frequent campaign charge that incumbent 2nd District Congressman Jim Ryun, a Republican, is in the pocket of big business.
Speaking to about 20 people at a luncheon sponsored by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, Lykins spent about half his 20-minute speech lambasting Ryun and Westar CEO David Wittig.
"People ask: Are you running against David Wittig or Jim Ryun?" Lykins told attendees in a banquet room of the Eldridge Hotel. "I'm running against both."
Lykins said Wittig has run Westar Energy, formerly Western Resources, into the ground.
Ryun, Lykins said, had been an accomplice to Wittig and other incompetent or corrupt executives such as Ken Lay of the bankrupt energy trading giant Enron.
Ryun has routinely voted against tighter regulation of big businesses, leaving them free to jilt shareholders and ruin pensions, Lykins said.
Ryun, like many fellow congressmen, was protective of the fat cats, Lykins said, because he received thousands of campaign dollars from corporate contributors such as Wittig.
"Where was Congress when we needed them?" Lykins asked.
Lykins is a Topeka attorney and treasurer since 1995 of the Kansas Democratic Party.
When Lykins' charges were repeated to Ryun, the congressman again cried foul. Lykins' accusations and Ryun's retorts have been the drumbeat of the 2nd District race.
"I have to stay here and work while he's out there distorting my record," Ryun said from Washington, D.C. "My record is really very clear on this. I have faithfully and firmly supported measures to increase confidence in the market ... I've also voted for pension reforms for employees so that their hard-earned retirement savings will have greater protection."
But Lykins' speech apparently earned him one Republican backer.
"From what I heard recently, I certainly would" vote for him, "although I'm a Republican," said Gordon Wiseman, a retired Kansas University professor of physics and astronomy who attended the luncheon. "He certainly seems to know where the trouble lies."
Ryun is scheduled to speak Oct. 24 at the chamber series. GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Shallenburger will be the series' speaker Oct. 16. Adam Taff, GOP challenger to 3rd District Congressman Dennis Moore, speaks Oct. 17. Democratic candidate for governor Kathleen Sebelius speaks Oct. 18. Moore, a Democrat, speaks Oct. 23.
The luncheons are from noon to 1:15 p.m. All are at the Eldridge, Seventh and Massachusetts streets. The cost for chamber members is $12 per event. The cost for nonmembers is $15.