Kansas state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald says he’s running for Congress in the 2nd District to keep the seat in Republican hands.
Five-term Republican Lynn Jenkins now holds the seat, but she is not running for re-election.
A former Army officer and Green Beret from Leavenworth, Fitzgerald has earned a reputation at the Statehouse as an outspoken, often blunt conservative. He trumpeted that reputation Thursday in announcing his candidacy to a crowd of about 40 supporters in Topeka.
“We do not need politicians who tell us what they think we want to hear rather than what we need to know,” Fitzgerald said. “Politicians with big plans for themselves but have never been toe to toe with those who deny the right to life, who are eager to limit your 2nd Amendment and other rights, and who see your wallet as the answer to their government spending problems.”
Illustrating a tendency to defy political convention, Fitzgerald went out of his way to link himself to President Donald Trump despite the president’s free fall in national polls.
“My vision for the next Congress is the rapid accomplishment of that agenda that President Trump brought to us and we approved in the last election — a strong, free and prosperous America,” Fitzgerald said.
Noting reports that Democrats have circled the 2nd District seat as one they hope to pick up in their effort to regain control of the U.S. House, Fitzgerald said Republicans need a candidate capable of keeping it in GOP hands.
“Bernie and Hillary’s Democrats are desperate to retake Congress and resume their death march to socialism,” he said. “We cannot let that happen.”
At the moment, the race for the GOP nomination is between Fitzgerald and Basehor City Councilman Vernon Fields. But others, including state Sen. Caryn Tyson of Parker, are looking at joining the GOP field.
Former Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis has launched an exploratory campaign for the Democratic nomination but has not officially filed. Davis has been out of politics since losing a close race for governor to Sam Brownback in 2014.
Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio and KMUW covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks.