Two relative unknown candidates and one who created a stir in the political world two years ago are running for the Democratic Party nomination in the 2nd U.S. House District.
Cheryl Hudspeth of Girard and Thomas Koch of Leavenworth are the newcomers to the political scene, while Sean Tevis of Olathe is the one who gained some national headlines in a 2008 Kansas legislative race.
The three face off in the Aug. 3 primary. The district includes all or part of 26 eastern Kansas counties, including the western portion of Douglas County, and the cities of Leavenworth, Topeka and Manhattan. The Democratic and Republican party winners will then face off in the Nov. 2 general election, along with Libertarian Robert Garrard of Edgerton.
Hudspeth, 56, said she has spent much of her life working in community and economic development. She has lived in Kansas since 1999, and over the past several years has spent most of her time caring for her husband, Tom, who was severely injured in a work-related car wreck.
That experience has persuaded her to run for office. “When I wasn’t caring for him, I’ve been fighting health insurance companies and workers’ compensation companies,” Hudspeth said.
“I don’t want a handout; I want what I paid for,” she said. “The amount of hassle that these companies will put you through — they will do everything they can to deny you life-saving benefits that you paid and contracted for.”
She said of incumbent U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, “Our current congressperson thinks that’s our problem, and not a problem that can be resolved through regulation.”
Hudspeth said Jenkins is not doing a good job representing the district. “(House Republican Majority Leader) John Boehner tells her how to vote. She votes that way and collects her paycheck,” Hudspeth said.
Koch, 48, touts his wide range of job experience, saying, “I can represent you because I have walked a mile in your shoes.”
Koch is a part-time janitor for the city of Leavenworth. He has also been an office worker, worked in a factory and owned a bookstore. He has served on the Leavenworth water board and was elected a Democratic precinct committeeman.
He said he was thinking of running for county commissioner, but when a more well-known politician, state Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, dropped out of the 2nd District race, he decided to go for it.
He disagrees with Jenkins on most issues. “Generally, she (Jenkins) takes the side of the wealthy over the side of the working people,” he said.
“She voted against health care for children based on worries about the budget deficit, but she proposes all these tax cuts, even for the wealthy,” Koch said. “There seems to be plenty of money to give out in tax cuts to the very wealthy but not when it comes to providing services for ordinary Kansans.”
Tevis, 41, gained national buzz in 2008 by posting an online comic to chronicle his campaign for a legislative seat and raising more than $100,000 from online donors. Tevis came close, but lost the race.
Tevis, who describes himself as an information architect, lives in Olathe, which is outside the 2nd District, but has said he plans to move to Lawrence after selling his house.
He has said he has a plan to start a national movement to reform Congress by reducing the influence of special interests and partisanship.
“Congress is broken, and I’m here to fix it,” he said.
But he hasn’t revealed details about his plan except to say it will require about 2 million people to work on it.