Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bollier virtually visits KU students, stresses need for ‘listening’
photo by: Screenshot/Zoom
Democrat Barbara Bollier spent much of her life as a moderate Republican, and she believes that experience will serve her well in the race for U.S. Senate in November, she told a group of University of Kansas students on Tuesday.
“I am about listening,” Bollier told the audience of several dozen students in the virtual call.
On the call, Bollier pitched herself as a candidate who could appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. She’s running against Republican U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, of western Kansas, in hope of becoming the state’s first Democratic senator since 1932 and the first female physician ever elected to the country’s most powerful lawmaking body.
Bollier is a relatively recent convert to the Democratic Party — she switched parties in 2018. On Tuesday, she said that when she was younger, longtime Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum was her role model of what a moderate Republican official should be. But in 2018, her views were often different from those of other Republicans in the Kansas Senate, and she said she was constantly “at odds with leadership” on issues such as school funding, reversing the substantial tax cuts implemented by former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and expanding the state’s Medicaid program.
“I went into public service in order to improve people’s lives, and for the very same reason that I went into medicine — to improve people’s lives,” she said. “It’s nice to have had that opportunity to do more than one thing, and I will tell you that as a state legislator I was really able to establish myself as a voice of independence and reason.”
Bollier emphasized Tuesday that if elected, she would work diligently to address pressing needs among the students in the audience — making college more affordable, giving people the ability to refinance student debt, expanding Pell grants for low-income students and providing more state and federal funding to universities.
She also said she firmly supported the Black Lives Matter movement, but that she was not in favor of defunding the police. Rather, she said she would support propping up systems such as early childhood education, affordable housing and job training programs that can head off issues that lead to crime and situations where police become necessary.
Bollier did not spend much time Tuesday addressing Marshall or his candidacy, but she did say she believed she had more practical governing experience than Marshall. Marshall, who is also a physician, was elected to Congress in 2016 and had not held any political office before that; Bollier’s political career in the Kansas Legislature began in 2010.
Despite it being almost a century since Kansas has sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate, Bollier said she feels she has a good chance to win if people turn out to vote.
“What I see is a broken system, and I am tired of all the bickering,” Bollier said. “I know this state … and this state isn’t as red as people think.”
Bollier and Marshall will face off in the Nov. 3 general election.