2020 Voters Guide: Bollier, Marshall have differing opinions on ‘Kansas values’ as state prepares for consequential U.S. Senate race

photo by: AP File Photos

Kansas Republican Senate candidate Roger Marshall, left, and Democratic Senate candidate Barbara Bollier, right.

As Kansas prepares for its most consequential and closest Senate race in a generation — one that could elect a Democrat to the seat for the first time since 1932 — two medical doctors, Democrat Barbara Bollier and Republican Roger Marshall, are both running campaigns focused on what they call “Kansas values.”

That’s where the similarities end.

Bollier and Marshall are opposed on essentially every issue that’s been prevalent during the 2020 campaign. The two gave vastly different answers when asked about topics such as health care, the federal government’s response to COVID-19, President Donald Trump’s performance and the need for further federal stimulus relief to mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic.

Both candidates spoke to the Journal-World by phone for this story. Here’s where they stand in some key areas:

Kansans’ top priority

Though both candidates emphasize “Kansas values” in campaign advertisements, they disagree about what Kansans’ top priorities are.

Bollier, who has been a member of the Kansas Legislature for roughly a decade as both a Republican and a Democrat, said the biggest issue she hears on the campaign trail is that Kansans want and need affordable access to health care.

Earlier this year, a proposal to expand the state’s Medicaid program failed despite a bipartisan consensus in the state Legislature, and Bollier said Kansans are feeling the effects.

“(This is) where I diverge clearly with my opponent,” Bollier said. “He’s voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act multiple times during the pandemic, meaning we wouldn’t even have the option to expand Medicaid and all of the people with pre-existing conditions could lose their coverage.”

Marshall, who has represented Kansas’ 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House since 2017, said that “Kansas values” center on protecting entrenched rights and restoring jobs and the economy in the wake of COVID-19. He said the top issue he hears about on the campaign trail is liability protections against COVID-19-related lawsuits for businesses and other organizations.

“I’m committed to getting our jobs back, and I’m committed to protecting Kansas values,” Marshall said. “I’m running for the Senate to make sure that every Kansan has the same shot at the American dream that I had.”

The federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic

A staunch supporter of Trump, Marshall heaped praise on the federal government’s response to COVID-19 when speaking with the Journal-World.

“I think we’ve done about everything possible that we could do,” he said. “We thought millions of people in this country would die, and certainly 200,000 is too many, but it’s certainly a lot less than the experts thought it would be.”

Marshall also said he thought the president’s comments and actions throughout the pandemic have been appropriate for the situation.

“Like me, every moment of every day we think about ‘how can we keep Americans safe and healthy?’ I think that’s been his focus. His actions (in the beginning) were absolutely engaged,” Marshall said. “I think his actions are absolutely in line with doing the right thing.

“I’m just not sure what else we could have done,” Marshall added.

The Journal-World interviewed Marshall a day before Trump revealed that he had contracted COVID-19.

Bollier, meanwhile, blasted the federal government’s response to the novel respiratory virus, saying that the lack of a cohesive plan led not only to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths, but to an economy that is struggling mightily to recover.

“We desperately need a comprehensive, coordinated response from our federal government. That has not occurred,” she said. “The only way we are going to get our economy back on track … is to follow public health guidelines.”

It is imperative, Bollier said, that members of Congress work together — and soon — to pass another stimulus package to provide economic relief.

“People are hurting, we need help, and this is the time,” she said.

Marshall, when asked about future stimulus efforts, said that the U.S. is “winning the battle against COVID” and blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for the lack of additional relief since Congress passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act stimulus bill in March.

That said, he acknowledged that more help is needed for many in Kansas and across the nation, and he supports future stimulus legislation proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“We still need help. But we’ve already borrowed $3.5 trillion from our grandkids and less than half of that, I think, has actually hit Main Street,” Marshall said. “This unemployment benefit was so rich people didn’t want to come back to work … I want to make sure future funds are appropriated to the right places.”

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


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