Greg Orman, an Olathe businessman running as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, announced Monday that he has received more than 10,000 signatures in support of his candidacy.
He needed 5,000 signatures by Aug. 4 to appear on the November ballot. Orman said he had received signatures from residents of all 105 counties in the state.
The Senate race has tacked to the right as U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Dodge City, tries to fend off a challenge from Tea Party candidate Milton Wolf in the Aug. 5 Republican primary.
But Orman offered a centrist message on the steps of the Kansas Statehouse on Monday.
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“Kansans are sick and tired of partisanship. They’re sick and tired of elected officials who are only interested in getting re-elected and not interested in solving problems,” he said.
He highlighted healthcare and immigration as two areas where partisanship had prevented solutions.
“The Affordable Care Act is a demonstration of what’s wrong with Washington. We passed that law when we had a healthcare affordability crisis. We still do. And over the past five years, neither party has wanted to put forward a solution. All they’ve done is bickered and taken partisan positions,” Orman said.
He suggested the healthcare industry’s incentive system needs to be reformed to make care more affordable.
“Healthcare’s one of the few industries in the world where you get paid to fix your own mistakes,” he said. “We need to start paying people on quality of care and not quantity of care.”
On the issue of immigration, Orman called for stronger border security, but also suggested that illegal immigrants be required to register with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and pay fines or perform community service for entering the country illegally.
He said that illegal immigrants who work, pay taxes, obey laws and learn English should be eligible for citizenship.
“But it’s absolutely impractical to think that we are going to send home 11 million people and it’s absolutely ill-advised to do that. There are whole towns in the state of Kansas like Dodge City and Garden City that would just go away if we took such an aggressive approach to immigration. There are whole industries such as the agriculture industry that would suffer greatly,” Orman said.
“I think people like to make partisan points with immigration, but at the end of the day I want a solution,” he said.
Since October more than 57,000 children have crossed the U.S. border illegally without a parent or guardian, according to the Los Angeles Times. When asked about the influx of illegal immigrant children, Orman suggested a PR campaign to discourage parents in Latin America from sending their kids across the border alone.
However, many of these children are fleeing from violence from drug cartels.
“You do raise a very good point. Part of the reason those kids are coming here is because of the sheer violence and danger in their home countries and I think we need to look at our underlying policies in America and how we can address that and help them address that,” Orman said. “I mean, we spend a lot of money in South Asia and the Middle East trying to address nation-building issues, and yet we’ve got issues that are much closer to home that we’re ignoring.”
Also on the November ballot will be Libertarian Randall Batson and the winner of the Democratic primary between Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor and Lawrence attorney Patrick Wiesner.