2020 Voters Guide: Democrat incumbent Holland to face Republican challenger Dove in 3rd District Kansas Senate race

photo by: AP File Photos

Democratic state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, will be facing off against Republican challenger Willie Dove in the 2020 general election.

One of the only contested races in the Douglas County area for the Kansas Legislature will pit longtime incumbent Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, against current Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, for the state’s 3rd District Senate seat.

Holland, a moderate Democrat who lost a 2010 bid to become the state’s governor, said that 2020 has been one of the most interesting election cycles he has been a part of, especially because of the divisiveness on the national level.

Dove did not return requests from the newspaper to be interviewed for this article.

Holland said he decided — because of ever-increasing focus on the presidential election — that it was crucial to get his message across to voters early. He started his campaign last June, he said, by contrasting his voting record with that of Dove, whom he described as “extremely far right.”

In an increasingly polarized period in politics, Holland said one of his most important attributes was his ability to garner support among the majority-Republican Senate.

“I have a (demonstrated) record of reaching across the aisle, working in a bipartisan fashion and getting major pieces of legislation not only introduced but incredibly close to the finish line,” he said.

A prime example of this, Holland said, came at the end of the 2019-20 legislative session with a bill he introduced that would freeze homestead taxes on Kansas seniors. It passed the Senate on the final day of the session in May, but it was ultimately defeated in the Republican-led House.

Holland also cited an effort to legalize medical cannabis that he introduced with a Republican co-sponsor as an example of generating bipartisan support on legislation, and he said that he would continue to prioritize both pieces of legislation if reelected.

“I have a track record of … working on meaningful legislation and bringing good things for Kansas citizens,” he said. “That’s why I’m coming back, is because Kansas citizens are hurting right now and I think I can help them move the state forward in a number of areas.”

Dove, a conservative Republican who has served in the Legislature since 2013, is a small-business owner and Army veteran who, according to his campaign website, believes that “people and their needs should always be at the forefront of any decision making process rather than petty politics.”

Dove, in the issues section of his website, lays out many of the same points that Republicans around the country have pushed for during this election cycle. First, Dove said, he’s a candidate who supports law and order and has been an advocate for law enforcement issues during his tenure as a representative.

“I support our law enforcement. The destructive riots and violent protests that are taking place in our country are not justifiable,” he writes. “We must be diligent in ensuring that our law enforcement officers are well-trained, well-equipped, and well-rounded.”

He also champions small businesses as the backbone of Kansas’ economy, and decried the issuance of stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic and what he viewed as the hampering of the economy.

Also on his website, Dove touts his support for gun rights and his opposition to abortion.

Holland claimed that Dove has not been a friend to public education, saying that as a representative he voted in favor of drastic tax cuts implemented by former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

“It’s one of the majorly crucial differences between the two candidates,” Holland said. “He voted for the Brownback tax cuts and then to increase the sales tax to fill the hole that the income tax cut left. It really hurt our schools and the services we provide to Kansans.”

Advance mail ballots can be sent in Kansas beginning Wednesday, and the general election takes place on Nov. 3.

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