TOPEKA — Republican Senate candidates Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt squared off Friday at the Kansas Chamber's Legislative and Congressional Summit.
Both congressmen vowed to fight for Kansas' interests in Washington, D.C.
"Now is not the time for timid representation," Tiahrt said in his opening volley.
He highlighted his experience as a businessman and said the nation's capital needed fewer lawyers running things. Moran is an attorney.
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Moran said he fought against overspending and bigger government, even when the initiatives he was voting against were his own party's, such as the No Child Left Behind education law.
"It's easy to be a fighter against government spending when you are fighting the other party," he said. "Republicans messed this up, too."
Moran said he planned to focus on long-term goals so the next generation could live prosperous lives.
The forum was a question-and-answer format where the men traded turns answering the same preselected questions.
Both said heath care costs were a problem for businesses but the current House and Senate plans were not the answer.
Moran and Tiahrt said one way to reduce costs would be to rein in defensive medical spending — such as when doctors order additional tests as a precaution in case they are sued later.
"With so many lawyers in Washington, D.C., we can't seem to get anything through the House or Senate," Tiahrt said.
"We can improve the health care system in significant ways by reducing the cost," Moran said.
The two are vying to be the Republican candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, who is running for governor.
On Friday, a third candidate entered the primary election field: Robert Londerholm, who served as Kansas attorney general in 1965-69 and later as a member and chairman of the Kansas racing commission.
Londerholm, who's an attorney in Olathe, issued a statement listing his qualifications and saying he represents "a needed 'balance' between the private and government sectors in our country."
He did not return a telephone message to his Olathe home.