Candidate profile: Paul Davis (D) for Kansas Governor

Paul Davis (D) for Governor

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Education, jobs, and taxes seem to be the top three issues in the Kansas governor’s race.

Kansas First news Anchor Jared Broyles sat down with house minority leader and democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis for a candid conversation about his candidacy. He addressed everything from his family and leadership qualifications to his positions on social issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and health care. The following story includes Davis’ answers verbatim. You will find the topic headlines are bold and written in all caps. Important note: this interview was conducted on 9/26. Some events may have occurred post-interview that are not reflected in the candidate’s responses such as on the topic of gay marriage.

GROWING UP

We began by talking about his life growing up. I told him that we want to see beyond the 30 second political ads that Kansans see of him and the governor. I asked where he grew up and about his family.

“Well, I grew up in Lawrence. Both my parents are educators. {I} had a pretty typical, I’d say middle class upbringing. We lived in a neighborhood where there were lots of kids. So, I had lots of friends I could hang out with while I was growing up. I went to some great schools. I felt like I got a terrific public education and had a really wonderful upbringing.”

FAMILY

So, how do Paul Davis’ parents feel about their son running for governor?

“Well, they are very excited. Both my parents are retired so they’ve got a lot of time on their hands. We’ve certainly employed them to do a whole lot of babysitting here lately. But, they’re very excited about this. I mean, neither of them have been heavily involved in politics, but they’ve always been sort of interested, and to have their son running for governor is a very exciting thing for them.”

Obviously as the governor, Davis would be the one in the spotlight. However, as governor, a man or woman’s family comes with them, and they have to live it. I asked him about his wife and daughter and how they feel about the possibility of him becoming governor.

“My wife has been unbelievable during this whole process. She works full time as a psychologist and works with homeless veterans. That’s what she’s done her entire career. She’s got a very demanding career. She commutes about 45 minutes each way to Leavenworth for her job. To be able to do all of that, be a wonderful mother, and keeping our household running hasn’t been a real easy task all the time, but she loves what she does, and she’s been tremendously supportive. Caroline is 4, and she knows what Dad is doing. She talks sometimes about running for governor. A few weeks ago she told me that one of her teachers who is a Republican is going to vote for me. So, I thought it was neat that you know, this 4 year-old is sort of figuring out bi-partisanship. But, she likes to go to the parades. We’ve taken her to a lot of parades, and of course, throwing the candy is pretty exciting and eating as much of it as she can as well. But, you know, we’ve been able to try to you know protect some family time during this process which hasn’t always been easy, but it’s something you gotta do and it keeps you in perspective.”

While Davis talks about his own public education, I wanted to know if he plans for his daughter Caroline to attend a public or private school.

“Well, she’s 4 years-old so she will go to kindergarten next year and you know like a lot of other parents, my wife and I are concerned about the kind of public school education that she’s gonna get. We’re hoping that she’s gonna be going to kindergarten her in Topeka, but she’s got a preschool she goes to right now. She’s actually gone to it for some time now, and she’s got a lot of friends who’ve been together for a while. We think about the fact that she may be moving away from her friends and worry a little bit about what that’s going to do to her, but she’s been just terrific during this process. Most definitely [she will attend public school]. Both Stephanie and I attended public schools, and we feel very strongly that you can get a great education in public schools, and we’ve got terrific schools here in Kansas. But as I said, you know, I’m like a lot of other parents out there, you look at the funding cuts and you’re worried about your own child. Grandparents are worried about their grandchildren.”

MRS. DAVIS – FUTURE FIRST LADY?

We’ve heard and seen a lot about Paul Davis the man, the candidate. However, we have heard very little about his wife, Stephanie. I asked if it’s really occurred to her that she could be Kansas’ next first lady.

“I think it probably crosses her mind a little bit. But, she is an incredibly outgoing person. She has a very vibrant personality, and I have no doubt that she would be a wonderful first lady. She likes people, and I think she has some issues that she would, uh, like mental health is clearly important to her as a psychologist that she would like to be able to champion. But you know, at the same time, she worries about some of the things about being in the public spotlight and having your child and your husband pretty well known. These days it’s pretty hard to go much of anywhere without having folks recognize you, but that’s all part of the job, and she knows that.”

Knowing that Mrs. Davis is passionate about her job as a psychologist, we wondered if she plans to devote herself to first lady duties full time or find a way to balance both.

“We’ve talked a little bit about it. She would really like to continue to work. She’s just incredibly passionate about what she does, and just hearing some of the stories I’ve heard from her about the lives she’s been able to affect, and she’s incredibly passionate about veterans. She knows what they have done for our country and knows that many of them have a lot of challenges because of the tours of duty they have spent defending the country in the nation’s interests. She wants to continue to help, and she’d like to be able to continue to do that as first lady if given the opportunity.”

HOBBIES 

While candidates spend much of their time talking about their professional lives, we wanted to know what Paul Davis does when he isn’t running for governor. Is he on the golf course? Is he in the wood shop? What does Paul Davis do when he gets to have fun?

“Well, we certainly spend a lot of time together as a family. You know, summertime Caroline loves to go to the swimming pool. So, we spend a lot of time at the swimming pool. You know, I have a few hobbies here and there. I’m the chef at our house, so I do most of the cooking and I really enjoy doing that. It’s kind of a relaxing thing for me to do, and you know, I also like to exercise. I’m a runner; certainly not a fast runner by any means, but I like to run. I try to do a few races here and there when I get a chance.”

QUALIFICATIONS

Any job interview isn’t complete without asking the interviewee what their qualifications are. So, I asked Davis why he’s best suited to lead that state of Kansas.

“Well, I’ve spent 12 years in the legislature; 6 years as a legislative leader. I have worked extensively in state government. I think I have a very good understanding of how state government works top to bottom. I’ve also watched a number of governors very closely and seen the different kinds of styles and leadership qualities. I think what I really bring to the table that is very unique is being someone who’s got a history of being able to work across the aisle. I’ve got over 100 current and former Republican elected officials that have endorsed my campaign. That’s unprecedented. It’s never happened in Kansas before, and a lot of those people are people that I’ve worked with. When I see someone, I don’t really wonder if they’re Democrat or Republican I am just interested in finding people who are interested in the same issues that I’m interested in and are willing to work together. And, I think if we’re going to work together to move the state forward, if we’re going to meet the challenges that we have, we’ve got to be able to work as Democrats and Republicans and find common ground.”

BIPARTISANSHIP

Davis spoke often during our conversation about bi-partisanship and its importance. So, I pushed him on that subject, asking specifically if he will support some Republican ideas.

“Absolutely. You know anyone who believes all the good ideas are in one party or the other I think is really missing the boat. Republicans have good ideas. Democrats have good ideas. And, I think true leaders are those who can recognize that and can bring people together to find common ground, compromise when you have to and put good ideas into place. One of the things that I’m very committed to doing is having an administration that is really compromised of fairly equal Democrats and Republicans. I don’t want to have just a couple of token Republicans. I want to have them be a real partner in this administration because I think also along with the best ideas out there the best people are not just in one political party. They’re in both, and we’ve got to be able to draw from the very best people we can find to help Kansas government work better.”

POLITICAL POSITION

The Brownback camp has frequently described Davis as an Obama liberal. So I asked him: are you an Obama liberal? How do you describe your political views?

“I’m very much a moderate. I’m a pragmatist; you know I think as I’ve said there are good ideas in both political parties. I’ve embraced a whole lot of proposals that Republicans have brought forward, and I’ve worked with Republicans many, many times to build bi-partisan coalitions. President Obama has not had very much success being able to work across the aisle, and I think that’s something that makes him very different from me. And as I’ve said, I’ve got over a hundred current and former Republican elected officials who are supporting me for that very reason. They know that I’m a centrist. They know that I’m a moderate. They know that I’m somebody who thinks through decisions very carefully, likes to be inclusive and bring people into the process. That’s my style of leadership.”

Davis was a two-time delegate for President Barack Obama. We wanted to know how he votes for Obama but differentiates himself from what some perceive to be more liberal ideas.

“Well, I’ve been a leader in my party, and when you’re a leader in your party you often attend party conventions, and that’s what I’ve done in the past. Does that mean I necessarily agree with everything that the party nominee supports? Certainly not, and I think Governor Brownback has been a leader in the Republican Party and he certainly wouldn’t agree with everything that Mitt Romney, John McCain, or George Bush has stood for. But, I think that really it’s important to look at the record and who’s been able to work carefully across the aisle. Because that’s what people want these days. They’re tired of the partisanship, and Democrats and Republicans not being willing to talk to each other or get along and you know, I think in Kansas we have a tradition of doing things differently here. We have been able to work as Democrats and Republicans many times before, and we have a history of doing that and that’s what we need to get back to.”

I asked for specific examples of what he’s done to try and create a moderate environment within the state legislature.

“Certainly. Well, back in 2005 we were facing a school finance lawsuit much like the one we’re facing right now, and we had to go into a special session in the middle of the summer and we had to deal with that. And, it was not easy to do. But, one of the things I did is I went across the aisle to talk to Republicans and say ‘We’ve gotta solve this issue. We know what we have to do here, and what are your ideas? Here’s some ideas that I have.’ And, you know, you start the discussion going and pretty soon you come up with some legislation you can build a coalition around. Also, back in 2010 we passed a comprehensive transportation plan, a 10 year plan for the state. It’s probably the largest job creating program the state has ever endeavored to go forward with, and I was one of the people who really built that coalition. We sat down and figured out what we wanted in the plan, and we worked to figure out how we were going to get it passed. And, you know, I’ve done that time and time again.”

EDUCATION

His parents are educators, so Davis may be more likely to be scrutinized by those closest to him concerning his education policy. I asked what his plans for Kansas public schools are.

“I think the very most important thing that we have to do to help public education is we have to restore the cuts that have been made. Governor Brownback when he came into office made the single largest cut to public school funding in state history, and Kansans have seen the consequences of that. They’ve seen the larger class sizes, they’ve seen the test scores that went down for the first time in a decade. They’re really worried about whether our best days in terms of public education are behind us, and I think we have to re-commit ourselves to our schools and we have to restore the cuts that have been made. Strong public schools are the very foundation of a stronger economy. If we’re gonna move the state forward economically, we’ve got to have the very best public schools we can have.”

SCHOOL FUNDING

Davis seemed to be saying that the main problem with Kansas schools right now is funding. So, I asked if money is the bottom line with this issue.

“I think it’s not everything though. It is certainly very important, and I think that is the main problem right now. But, there are a lot of other issues in education we’ve got to work on. We’re losing half of our public school teachers within the first five years. That is a very, very significant problem. Now, there may be some folks who decide teaching is not for them, and they want to go do something else. And, certainly we want to respect that, but we also have a lot of folks that just are not staying with it. And, we want to find ways in which we can help give more mentorship opportunities, and certainly, the economics of the teaching profession certainly play into that. We’re in a marketplace, we’re competing with other professions out there, and you know, I want to be able to attract the best and the brightest to the teaching profession because what we know is that a good public school teacher is the most critical factor in a child’s education.”

THE ARTS

Certainly athletics are important here in the state of Kansas, but there are also students who are very passionate about the arts. We asked if he thinks the arts are functioning at the level they can be and should be in state public schools.

“You know, all I have to do is look at my daughter. She does art everyday at her preschool, and it’s such a big part of her development as a child. A lot of people see art as something people do, and it’s expressive but it’s a big part of a child’s development. And, not just children but also adults. I think one of the biggest mistakes Gov. Brownback made was to do away with the Kansas Arts Commission. We were able to leverage several million dollars in funds from the federal government, and funds from a regional arts alliance to be able to bring arts programs all across the state. And, it contributes to quality of life, it contributes to the state economy, and many of those programs are children’s programs which I think are just critical to a child’s development.”

I followed up by asking if he would consider restoring the Kansas Arts Commission.

“Very much so, yes. I am committed to restoring the Kansas Arts Commission because I think it is very important for us to have a vibrant arts community across the state.”

COMMON CORE

Common core is a very controversial topic. Some teachers are very passionate about it, some do not like it at all; feel like it limits them, it limits the children. So, what does Davis think about common core?

“You know, I largely want to differ to the education professionals, and when I talk to members of the state board of education who have spent a lot of time looking into this, or I’ve talked to teachers and school principals, most of them, the vast majority of them are very supportive of this. They think it’s a step in the right direction in terms of getting kids some of the critical thinking skills and other skills that they’re going to need in order to succeed in a 21st century economy. There are also a lot of business leaders, major business leaders from all across the country that stand behind Common Core because they are like the management team at Westar Energy that I talked to about a week ago that said, “We need educated, skilled workers.” That is a critical issue to their company and most every other company across the state. They want to see an education curriculum that’s going to provide that.”

STATE BUDGET

On the topic of the Kansas budget and the projected shortfall, I asked: are we spending too much in this state or are the tax cuts the problem?

“Well, I think the major problem out there is that we have a governor right now who has just not been fiscally responsible with the budget. I mean, nobody likes taxes. I don’t like to pay taxes, but we also know that we have to provide critical government services out there. Folks expect to have a good school system. They expect to have public safety programs and good roads to drive on, and we’ve got to be able to provide that. We’re not going to be able to when the state is $1.3 billion in debt over the next 5 years, and we are solely in that position because of the Governor’s economic experiment which has gone wrong. I’ve offered a plan to get us out of that situation. It’s a plan that I think Democrats and Republicans can support. The Governor just refuses to acknowledge that there’s even a problem, and he just says ‘Well, everything is going to work out.’ And, it’s not. We are facing a very stark reality that the state is deep in debt, and I think if Governor Brownback is given a 2nd term what you’re going to see is more cuts to education, you’re going to see more dollars taken out of our transportation plan which we know is a proven way of creating jobs and growing the economy.”

TAXES

So does Davis’ plan include raising taxes? Does he think that more funding is the only way we can get state services back to where he believes they should be?

“Our plan says, ‘Let’s freeze the tax rates where they are going to be on January 1, 2015. Because if we go any farther down this path the Governor has us on, we go into deep, deep red ink. And, I think it’s a common sense way we can get ourselves out of this situation. One of the first things we have to do is we have to stabilize the state budget. When we have credit downgrades like we have , three of them in just over a year, that send a bad message to people about the state of our economy and where the state’s going, and we just can’t continue to do that.”

Davis says he plans to freeze tax rates. But, if there is a shortfall, how does he plan to have money to make that up? Is that tax increases? Davis said, we’ve got to pay for what we want. So, the question is, will Kansas raise taxes to get back to where he believes we need to be?

“Well, no I’m not talking about that. I’ve got a strong record of cutting taxes. I’ve voted over 150 times to cut taxes during my 12 years in the legislature. I like to cut taxes when we can. But we have to go about this in a reasonable and responsible way. And the way that the Governor has gone about this is just not responsible because it’s sending the state deep in debt, and it’s threatening those critical state services that I think people depend upon: public school, public safety, good roads.”

So freezing taxes, but not increasing them?

“That’s what we’re proposing to do, and as I’ve said, I think that’s a proposal both Democrats and Republicans can get behind.”

Davis seems to be saying he would keep the Brownback tax cuts but believes he can still find a way to restore some of the services that have been cut.

“Well, by going down the road any farther we just go into debt and what I’m saying is, ‘Let’s hit the pause button now on the future income tax cuts and let’s get the state’s fiscal house in order.’ And then, going forward we can get the economy performing in a much better way than it’s performing right now. I mean, right now we’re well below the national average. We need to be above the national average. And at that point, what I really want to do is I want to make restoring those cuts to public education our very top priority.”

JOBS

Jobs is one of the major issues in this race. We asked what the current state of jobs in Kansas is and how  we improve.

“We’ve got to do a lot better than we’re doing right now. As I said, we are performing below the national average. We are trailing our surrounding states. The Governor’s own council of economic advisers a couple of months ago documented we are trailing our surrounding states in virtually every economic indicator that there is. The Governor’s approach to growing the economy has been a one-size fits all approach. It says ‘Let’s cut taxes in a big way for top income earners and let’s hope that’s going to lead to job creation’, and it just hasn’t worked and it’s not going to work. We have a proven model for moving our economy forward and creating jobs here. And it says that we’re going to understand that communities are really the leaders on economic development and the state needs to be a very good partner and what works to grow the economy here in Topeka is very different than what works in Johnson County or Hays, Kansas. But we also have to provide basic infrastructure, the foundation for communities to be able to succeed. That means we’ve got to have good infrastructure, we’ve got to have a robust transportation program. We’ve got be able to have a skilled workforce. There’s a lot more that we can do in terms of getting people into career and tech ed programs and we’ve got to have great public schools. I mean, people aren’t just going to want to live in places where you don’t have really good public schools. And, you know, that’s been a great success of our state for decades and decades. We don’t have mountains or beaches. Unfortunately, it’s not 75 degrees outside like it is today every day of the year. But we have a wonderful quality of life here, and I think the single most influential factor in that quality of life is the great public schools that we have. If you move here, your kids are going to get a good education.”

I asked Davis what he means by a ‘proven economic model’.

“Well, it’s worked. I mean, it’s been working for many decades, and it’s a model that Democratic and Republican governors in the past have subscribed to. It’s no different than what Governor Graves or Governor Hayden or Governor Carlin did in the past. I think we know that it works. We know that we shouldn’t be out conducting experiments that really I think are garnered to get national headlines and national acclaim. You know, the Governor likes to have a red state model. I don’t want to have a red state model, I don’t want to have a blue state model. I mean, I want something that works for Kansas.”

FUNDING FOR STATE PROGRAMS

As for other state programs, we wanted to know if there are any others aside from education that he believes are underfunding. How does he propose to increase funding for those?

“Well, there are a lot needs out there. There’s no doubt about it, and I think one of the things that we’re going to have to do if we’re successful in this is really conduct a top to bottom review of what the needs are in the different state programs. We certainly want to make sure we are using the state’s tax dollars as well as we possibly can, but there are some, you know I think some places where I have a lot of concerns. Public safety is one of them. We have to be able to ensure that we are going to be able to keep the public safe, and we have a lot of public safety programs that have seen pretty serious budget cuts the past couple of years, and we need to I think review those very carefully and ensure that we are able to protect the public and that we’ve got the adequate resources to do that.”

FOSTER CARE

On the subject of social issues, we began with foster care. Kansas is one of a few states with a privatized model. We’ve seen children who’ve died in care in this state as well as others issues raised. I asked if the foster care system is functioning well in the state of Kansas.

“Well, I think there have been some horribly tragic situations, and every time you hear about something like that it’s just incredibly painful. Because the state of Kansas is responsible for these kids, and nobody wants to see something like that happen on their watch. And, you know, I think this is a situation where it’s very important that you have a lot of attention that’s being paid and a great deal of oversight over the providers, you know there was a situation in Wichita where there was somebody who was providing foster care for a child and had absolutely no business doing that. We have to make sure that those things are absolutely not going to happen, and so, you know, privatization can work in some circumstances and it doesn’t work in other circumstances. But, when you do have a situation where private companies are conducting the state’s business, we have to watch them very, very carefully because you know, ultimately the state of Kansas is responsible and we don’t want to see anymore tragedies happen like we’ve seen in the past.”

The state runs its own prisons, but Kansas pays private organizations to take care of its kids. They make money by having kids in care. We asked if he believes the privatization model works here.

“I think it is something that bears closer inspection. I’m not going to say that we should do away with it or I’m not going to say that we absolutely ought to keep it. But, I think it bears closer inspection because we’ve seen some cases here that are just heartbreaking. And, I don’t want to see any more of them. I, certainly as governor, that is something no governor ever wants to see happen.”

HOMELESSNESS

As a representative running for governor, Davis has been all across the state. Homelessness in Kansas is it a big problem a small problem? Is it something that the state and non-profits have a hold on?

“It is a problem. There’s no doubt about it, and it’s indicative of a growing poverty problem that we have in our state. If you look at the number of kids that are living in poverty, 1 in 4 kids in Kansas are living in poverty.  I mean, that is an alarming number to look at. And, you know, there are lot of reasons for that there’s no doubt about that. But, I will say that what has happened over the past four years has not been helping the situation, and it’s been making it worse. The governor’s tax policies have been very, very harsh on people who are in poverty and trying to get out. We had a woman in Winfield who came to one of our campaign meetings and wanted to get involved in the campaign. She has seen her tax bill go up $4,000 as a result of the changes that the governor has made to the tax plan. Her CPA at the same time tells her that he got a tax break of over $10,000 as a result of that. You know, that is not helping us bring people out of poverty, and so I think we not only have to look at the tax code, but a variety of other things to help that situation and you know, nobody ever wants to see anybody in a situation where they don’t have a home. And, there’s a lot of wonderful non-profits, faith-based organizations that are working on that issue day in and day out and God bless them for doing it because it’s critically important work.”

SENIORS

So, what about senior issues in Kansas?

“Well, I think a lot of seniors right now are worried about a lot of issues. One is they are seeing rising property taxes all across the state. Over 86 of our 105 counties has seen property tax increases, and that senior who’s living on a fixed income that is seeing their property tax bill go up, up and up each year is worrying about whether they are going to be able to stay in their home and be able to afford to do so. So, I think we’ve got to be very cognizant of the property tax problem that is just growing in this state and has become much worse during the time that Governor Brownback has been in office. The other thing that seniors are concerned about is the healthcare compact that Governor Brownback signed into law. This bill would allow the state of Kansas to take over Medicare. I don’t think that the state of Kansas has any business getting involved in Medicare. People are largely satisfied with Medicare how it is, and I think it would be an absolute disaster if the state decided to get into the Medicare business.”

GAY MARRIAGE AND ABORTION

In the last few years we’ve seen two major social issues become a state issue when before they were largely a federal issue. What is Davis’ stance on gay marriage and abortion?

“Well, what I first of all am not going to do is I’m not going to make them part of my agenda. I really want to focus on issues that are going to unite Kansans, and these are very, very divisive issues. And, I think that the Governor needs to be somebody who is going to unite Kansans and not spend a lot of time on issues that are particularly divisive. You know, I did not support the constitutional amendment a few years ago because I thought it sent a disturbing message about what I think has been a traditionally welcoming image that our state has had. That issue is now in the court system and there’s nothing we’re going to be able to do about it.

While that answer sounds moderate, maybe even bipartisan, if the legislature passes legislation concerning those two topics, it’s going to come across the governor’s desk. He is going to have to sign it or veto it. So, I pushed him to give people an idea where he stands on abortion rights and where he stands on gay marriage.

“Well, on the issue of abortion what I have said is we have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the entire country. And, I’m not going to seek to change that. If the legislature decides to send me legislation you know, I will look at that and we’ll evaluate it. But it’s not going to be on my agenda at all. And, neither is the issue of gay marriage. You know, this is an issue that’s out there in the court system right now, I don’t expect it to come back to the states in any form, and it’s just not going to be part of my agenda.”

The state currently has a constitutional ban on gay marriage. I asked if it’s up to the governor to decide to defend it or the attorney general.

“Well, it’s going to be the attorney general’s decision, and the people of Kansas voted it into our constitution and did so by a significant majority, and I very much respect that. And, I would expect the attorney general is going to defend that position in court, but ultimately this is a constitutional issue the courts are going to decide.”

IMMIGRATION

We wanted to know what Davis believes should be done concerning immigration.

“We badly, badly need the federal government to do something meaningful on this issue. States cannot tackle this issue in a patchwork framework here. We’ve got a lot of folks in this state who have come from different countries, and they’ve come here for the jobs. They are a very critical part of our state’s economy especially in the southwest part of the state where we’ve got meat packing plants and the ranching/cattle industry. And I just think this is crying out for the federal government to do something, and I’m going to do my best as governor to try and advocate for the federal government to you know, meaningfully address this issue. And, I think we’re going to have to give those who are here and who are playing by the rules a way in which we can get them on a path to citizenship and and we’ve got to be mindful of the economic effect of this all through the process.”

ENERGY

Energy is another major topic in modern day Kansas.

“Yeah. Well, One of the issues that I think is very, very critical for the state is our future development of wind. I support an all of the above energy policy. You know, coal is here to stay, and it’s going to be here for a while so is natural gas, so is nuclear. But, where we have enormous growth potential is really in that renewable energy, you know, not just wind but also bio fuels and things that come from our agricultural sector. But, what is really critical in the legislative arena right now is whether we are going to continue to have our renewable portfolio standard that we have in the state. It is very important for the wind industry. They don’t want to come to a state where there is no renewable energy portfolio standard. There have been efforts to try and get rid of that in the legislature. Governor Brownback has previously been a supporter of it, but then he said he could support a repeal and then a few hours later he said, ‘well I didn’t really mean that.’ I mean, he’s just been completely wishy washy. We have to send a strong message that this is the policy of the state. We want the wind industry to be here. We want to create more wind farms that help many farmers and people in rural communities, and we also want to create more wind manufacturing jobs like we have in Hutchinson, Kansas. And, if you want to manufacture wind product, what better place to do it in than Kansas? Right in the middle of the prairie, right in the middle of the wind corridor. And, we’ve got an enormous opportunity for us to grow jobs and move our economy forward.”

MARIJUANA

Neighboring Colorado has legalized recreational marijuana. Some feel as if it’s freed up law enforcement, others feel as though it’s created more problems for law enforcement. Is that something the state of Kansas should look at?

I don’t think so. I’m not a supporter of legalizing marijuana. We’ll see what happens in Colorado, but I just Don’t think that’s something that Kansans want to do. The medical marijuana issue is an interesting one. I was contacted by a family that lives in my community. They’ve got a little boy that has a very rare disease where he has a 150 seizures a day. They haven’t been able to find anything that can help him other than a medical marijuana product. And, that family moved to Colorado in order to be able to give him the kind of treatment that he needs. And so, I’m sympathetic ito a situation like that, and I’m willing to look at a something that is pretty restrictive that is going to target it at helping kids like that.

So, you (Davis) are willing to look at medical not recreational.

“Correct.”

MEDICAID/KANCARE

When it comes to Kancare there’ve been many people angry that the Brownback administration did not take the federal money to create the healthcare exchanges. We wanted to know if Davis feels that was wise, or if it was a mistake?

“Well, I think that we would have been much better off if we had had a Kansas based exchange. I mean, when we have an opportunity to design something here in Kansas rather than letting the federal government do it, that’s usually a good idea. And, all of the Kansans that are out there who were out there trying to find health insurance didn’t have to be subjected to all the mess of the Obamacare rollout. But, if you look at the privatization of Medicaid and what Governor Brownback has done, it’s yet another experiment that just isn’t working. I’m not anti managed care. I think managed care can work in many circumstances, but all I am hearing from Medicaid beneficiaries, doctors, hospitals nursing homes, home health agencies is complaints about  that isn’t working. I mean there was a dentist in Garden City the other day who said he was done with Kancare. ‘I’m not going o see any more of these patients’ and he described it as  a system where you know, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing here.’ And, we’ve got to have a system that is much more workable. So, we’re going to look at this program if we’re elected, and we’re going to have a couple of guiding principles. One is that those Kansans who are on the Medicaid program who need healthcare are going to get the healthcare that they need and they’re going to get it in a timely manner. And those that are providing that healthcare are going to get paid in a timely manner. We can’t expect folks to be delivering thousand, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in healthcare services and not get promptly paid or it.”

Because of time constraints, there were a few questions that we didn’t get to. I emailed them to Davis’ press secretary and received the following responses in return:

1)      We haven’t seen or heard a lot from your running mate Jill Docking. Who is she and what role will she play in your administration?

I’ve known Jill for 20 years. She’s a businesswoman who still works quite a bit in Wichita. I’m proud to call her my friend and honored she decided to be my running mate. She will bring decades of private-sector experience and a commitment to fiscal responsibility to the position of Lt. Governor. She will help forge an economic policy that works for all Kansas businesses.

2)      There seems to be an anti-incumbancy attitude this election year. Are you benefitting from it? Do you think people are simply voting against Brownback or genuinely connecting with your message?

In every corner of the state, people are frustrated with the direction Sam Brownback is taking our state. They are upset that he made the largest single cut to our schools and forced his failed economic experiment on Kansas. He is bankrupting our state and damaging our economy. Kansans want a governor who will focus on the right priorities: strong schools, good jobs, proven economic solutions, and bipartisan cooperation 

3)      The Republican Party played heavily on the 1998 drug raid at the strip club. You have pointed out that you were young, with a boss visiting a client, and had done nothing illegal. This clearly is an attack on your character, specifically your morals.

We knew from the beginning Sam Brownback would resort to personal attacks because he cannot run on his record. He is down in nearly every poll, and desperate to distract voters. Kansans are concerned with our struggling schools, our stagnant economy and Sam Brownback’s failed economic experiment.

The folks who know me know that I am a moderate, commonsense Kansan focused on the right priorities. More than a 100 current and former Republican endorsed me because they know my values and my priorities: schools, jobs, a growing economy and bipartisan cooperation.

1)      Sen. Henseley’s office issued a press release concerning Brownback’s admin. selling “porn” to pay for the budget shortfall. Although it didn’t come directly from your campaign, some might consider it to be tit for tat from the Democrats. Do you support Sen. Hensley’s accusation that the governor is being hypocritical in this situation?

The fact is Kansas is in deep financial trouble. Our economy is stagnant, we we’re facing a billion-dollar deficit in a fews years, and our credit has been downgraded three times. Just this week we learned that the budget situation is getting worse by the day. There is nothing funny about the financial mess Sam Brownback created in Kansas. It is damaging our economy, putting our schools at risk of more cuts, and jeopardizing the future of our great state.

2)      We’ve talked about your qualifications to be governor. What would you say are your weaknesses? How will you overcome them in the job?

We will have many challenges to address as a state: underfunded schools, looming deficits and a stagnant economy. I think some folks may think it will be a challenge to govern with a largely Republican legislature.  But I have a 12-year record of bringing Democrats and Republicans together to solve the challenges we face. That’s why over 100 current and former Republicans have endorse my candidacy. They know I am a moderate, commonsense leader they can work with.

3)      No one does everything wrong. What do you personally think Governor Brownback done well?

I sincerely appreciate the attention Governor Brownback has brought to the water crisis facing Kansas. No governor in recent history has taken active steps to even talk about this – let alone work to find a solution. I very much support the Governor’s efforts to build a 50-year water plan for Kansas. I agree that it is the most critical long-term issue facing this state. The problem, however, goes right back to the Governor’s failed economic experiment. He has not only de-funded the water plan that is already on the books by $30 million, but he has crippled the state’s ability to fund a 50-year water plan in the future.

 

Kansas First News has requested a similar one-on-one with Davis’ opponent, Gov. Sam Brownback. When the Governor consents to that interview we will post it to this website as well.

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