Craig Gabel, Rick Lindsey vie for GOP nomination in House District 96

07/28/2014 7:16 AM

08/08/2014 10:11 AM

It can be difficult to tell if Craig Gabel is running against Rick Lindsey or with him for the Republican nomination for Kansas House District 96.

There’s little policy difference between the two men vying to oppose Democrat Brandon Whipple in the November general election. That’s because Gabel, 52, who trains and educates candidates as part of his work as president of Kansans for Liberty, never intended to run.

“I wasn’t going to run,” Gabel said. “My district had Phil Hermanson. I helped Phil Hermanson get elected and, you know, was solidly behind him, and then they moved him out of the district and it was wide open.

“And now, it looked like there was no one to run, so I went down and signed up. It was the right thing to do.”

Indeed, Hermanson and Lindsey, 46, who works in private security, essentially swapped districts, with the incumbent Hermanson shifted from the 96th to the 98th and Lindsey shifted to the 96th from the 98th, where he had filed to run with Gabel’s encouragement.

Almost half of the new District 96 is made up of residents from Districts 97 and 98.

Gabel, the owner of Mike’s Steak House and Gabel Oil, paid off a little more than $126,000 in taxes and penalties dating back nine years earlier this month. He is the chief spokesman for the local tea party movement and regularly comes before the City Council to protest business-development subsidies and condemnations of substandard homes.

He’s had legal problems in the past, including police reports showing that at least seven women called police to complain about him 15 times between 1995 and 2005 and that he was arrested three times and charged once. Five run-ins with men, one leading to his arrest on suspicion of discharging a firearm and cruelty to animals. Two arrests on suspicion of driving under the influence. More than 80 citations for housing violations at his properties.

All of those issues — results of a life complicated by a divorce and a bankruptcy filing — have been resolved, Gabel said.

He said he still buys homes through tax auctions for rehabilitation, many with housing cases that follow the property after he acquires them.

“I’ve been committed to straightening everything out for quite a while now,” Gabel said after paying the delinquent taxes.

For Gabel, the filing is a chance to take Kansans for Liberty’s work a step further.

“I was actively involved in getting five or six people elected last time, and now it’s five or six more,” Gabel said. “It just doesn’t make sense, I don’t think, to help these guys get elected and then turn them loose, let everyone up there in Topeka steer them in the wrong direction. It’s time for someone with us to follow through with the process.”

Gabel proclaimed during an Eagle editorial board meeting that he told Lindsey to run. Lindsey said Gabel overstated his involvement.

“I would beg to differ with that a little bit,” Lindsey said. “I do know Craig and I don’t have any problems with him on a personal level. I have had an interest in politics for some time, and he was helping me through the process and getting ready for a race, but other than that ”

Where the two candidates differ markedly is on the performance of Gov. Sam Brownback. Gabel blasted the governor for “veering” from Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s agenda — “constitutionality, voter ID, eVerify, those things.”

“I honestly thought when the governor ran he and us were on the same page,” Gabel said. “Yet every time I turn around, he’s doing something different.”

Lindsey praised Brownback’s performance and expressed confidence that the governor’s tax cuts will revitalize the Kansas economy.

“He has an agenda, he has a direction he wants to take the state, and I agree with most of that,” Lindsey said. “On the overall tax picture, where I differ is I believe they should have cut the income tax and left the sales tax in place. Over time, the income tax should go away and be replaced by a consumption tax.”

Both men feel strongly that administrative costs are siphoning off too much of the state’s education money.

“Look around you,” Gabel said, gesturing around the outbuilding at Mike’s where he was interviewed by The Eagle. “All you need for a school right here. Just put a board on the wall.”

Lindsey was less literal in his view of the state’s commitment to education.

“The question is priorities and where is the money getting to. Is it getting into the classroom?” Lindsey asked. “These are questions that need to be examined very thoroughly. In fairness to the administrators, part of that is a result of regulations imposed by the state and the federal government, where you have all these rules and administrative responsibilities you have to abide by. Those things incur costs.”

House District 96, Republican primary

Craig Gabel

Age: 52

Occupation: Restaurant owner, oil and gas operator, rental property, other businesses

Education: High school, some college

Experience: President, Kansans for Liberty

Phone: 316-806-3300

E-mail: craig_gabel@yahoo.com

Website: Gabel4house96th.org

Do you believe the income tax cuts Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law are a good thing for Kansas?

A good start, what right does government have knowing your income or designing tax policy to punish one group or aid another. Let’s all pay 3.2 percent on everything we purchase and eliminate dozens of other hidden taxes, corporate and personal income taxes.

What further changes, if any, would you advocate in the state’s tax laws?

Simpler, flatter, fairer, replace nearly every tax with a simple LOW sales tax, not a retail sales tax, but a true sales tax. Every time something changes hands, add a 1-2% tax with no taxes on anything exported beyond the state’s borders and no exemptions.

How would you change the state’s laws or budget to improve K-12 education?

I will do whatever I can so that more money gets to the classroom. We need to empower parents with the ability to choose what is best for their children. We need to help kids determine career and educational paths before the 10th grade, and see to it that there is training for those career paths including vocational and technical schools and classes.

Rick Lindsey

Age: 47

Occupation: Loss prevention

Education: Baker University

Experience: Precinct committeeman

Phone: 316-266-4699

E-mail: rickgop@att.net

Website: lindsey4kansashouse.com

Do you believe the income tax cuts Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law are a good thing for Kansas?

Yes, overall. Kansas needs to have a competitive tax structure to compete for jobs and economic development. Right now, as a result of lower taxes, other states surrounding us are better able to attract business and residents. Due to initial costs, I would have supported cuts to income tax alone, instead of income and sales taxes.

What further changes, if any, would you advocate in the state’s overall tax laws?

Make the business and individual tax structure simpler, to reduce costs and time associated with filing and payment.

How would you change the state’s laws or budget to improve K-12 education?

My goal would be to work with educators on this (including those in teaching), to determine how best to improve long term budgets and planning. I would work to lower administrative costs to get more money in the classroom where teachers would benefit. Attempt to streamline the regulatory climate imposed by the federal government.

What candidates have to say about the issues

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