Nancy Boyda thinks there are enough disgruntled and former Republicans in Kansas to help Democrats elect her to Congress later this year.
Boyda, a former Republican herself, said she switched parties last year because she thought Republicans had turned their backs on farm families and small and midsize businesses while passing legislation aiding big corporations.
"When I grew up, you worked hard, and you provided for your family," said Boyda, a 48-year-old Topeka resident. "That's been the core of democracy. I think Democrats really stand for those values that I embrace."
Boyda is running against U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, a Republican first elected to the 2nd District seat in 1996. Ryun, a former Kansas University and Olympic runner, defeated Democrat John Frieden that year and has had no serious opponent since. The 2nd District includes most of the city of Lawrence west of Iowa Street.
Earlier this month Boyda announced her campaign had raised nearly $275,000 during the first quarter of 2004. Ryun's campaign reported raising $94,000 during the same period.
"The people in the 2nd District are ready for a change," Boyda said.
If elected, Boyda said she would look for ways to "level the playing field" for small businesses.
A former pharmaceutical researcher, Boyda on her campaign Web site describes herself as a victim of corporate mergers and corporate types who took their money and ran, leaving others jobless.
Ryun, Boyda said, has received nearly $12,000 in campaign contributions from Westar Energy and Western Resources since 1997, including $2,800 from its former chief executive, David Wittig, who has since been convicted of conspiracy and money laundering.
Ryun also voted for legislation that allowed for a $254 million tax break for Enron, which collapsed last year in the largest bankruptcy case in the nation's history amid federal allegations of corruption.
"We need to hold our larger corporations accountable for paying their part of the taxes. I think a lot of it comes down to closing tax loopholes," Boyda said.
Ryun, in a response faxed to the Journal-World, noted that in 2001 he worked to pass a tax relief and economic growth package that he thinks helped Kansas families. That package, he said, included an increase in the child tax credit that gave back an average of $1,100.
While Ryun has generally supported President Bush's policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism, Boyda said he wasn't supportive enough of the military doing the fighting. She was critical of his "no" votes last year concerning amendments to the $87 billion supplemental bill that would have given military personnel $1,500 bonuses and supplied them with more drinking water, long-distance calling cards and extra medical and dental services.
Ryun, who is on the House Armed Services Committee, said he had worked to pass several bills to improve pay and benefits, including a 4.1 percent pay raise and reductions in housing costs for military.