Tonganoxie Republican voters forked up biscuits and gravy Saturday in Tonganoxie with a dash of last-minute campaigning from GOP candidates looking for votes in the Aug. 3 primary.
Tonganoxie residents Dennis and Denise Bixby put on the biannual Red, White and Biscuit Breakfast that features a twist to traditional electioneering: Candidates serve a breakfast of biscuits and gravy and dispense coffee to attendees. Admission to the gathering at the Knox Dairy Barn at the Tonganoxie Community Historic Site was a donation for the Good Shepherd Thrift Store and Food Bank of Tonganoxie.
Invitations went to conservative Republicans, Dennis Bixby said. It was a benchmark that excluded first-term GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins but not her challenger for the 3rd District congressional seat, Dennis Pyle of Hiawatha.
“She flip-flopped too much from what she said during her campaign,” Bixby said.
The event was expected to draw the two GOP congressmen vying for the U.S. Senate, Jerry Moran of Hays and Todd Tiahrt of Goddard. But Moran attended the funeral of a close friend, leaving only Tiahrt.
After a long conversation with Tiahrt, Bob Alden talked politics with fellow Tonganoxie resident Art Miller. Both said they didn’t know how they would vote in the Senate race. “I like his (Tiahrt’s) stand on immigration. I like his stand on getting rid of the deficit,” Alden said. “I haven’t decided yet.”
Tiahrt said he met a number of undecided voters after breakfast. “That’s why they come to events like this,” he said. “Most voters make up their mind in the last two weeks before the election.”
Although Alden and Miller said they liked both candidates, they did complain about the negative tone of the race. Tiahrt said he heard the same complaint Saturday. The race has gone negative, but not from the tactics of his camp, he said. His ads focus on Moran’s record, while he has been the subject of character assassination, Tiahrt said.
“I remind people he voted to raise taxes, to give terrorist constitutional rights and that he voted to protect sanctuary cities that gave amnesty to illegal immigrants,” he said. “Those are things he doesn’t want people to hear. We’ve stayed away from personal attacks.”
People are tired of the negative campaigning, Bixby said. And he was uncertain whether what was said in the campaign would be forgotten after the election.
“I would have a hard time forgetting if they misrepresented everything I said,” he said. “I’m not necessarily saying lies were said, but maybe not 100 percent of the truth either.”
He points to each candidate’s strengths when undecided voters ask how to vote, Bixby said. He views Moran as stronger on agricultural issues, and Tiahrt better on immigration and on aviation issues important to the 4th Congressional District.
Asked about his strengths, Tiahrt cited his record of accomplishment, his vision and endorsements.
He has successfully sponsored amendments in the U.S. House that prevent release of federal firearms trace information to all but law enforcement agencies or prosecutors involved in criminal investigations, prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating livestock as a source of greenhouse gases, and created an exemption for the Wright Amendment, which lowered airfares in Kansas.
His endorsements include Kansans for Life, the Kansas State Rifle Association, the Tea Party Express, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity and James Dobson, Tiahrt said.