Yoder, Moore and Talbert debate in Overland Park

Nancy Pelosi wasn’t in the room but she was in the fray when Congressional candidates Kevin Yoder and Stephene Moore met in a contentious debate Wednesday.

Yoder, a Republican seeking the 3rd District seat, mentioned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by name 13 times in an attempt to link Moore, a Democrat, to the current crop of Congressional leaders. At one point, he started to refer to Moore as “Nancy” before he caught himself.

“Nancy Pelosi does matter in this election because the first vote your Congressman is going to take is for the Speaker of the House,” Yoder said. “She (Moore) will vote for Nancy Pelosi.”

Moore, meanwhile, repeatedly called Yoder a “career politician” and slighted his record as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee in the Kansas Legislature. She reminded Yoder that Pelosi isn’t on the ballot in the 3rd District, which includes Johnson and Wyandotte counties along with part of Douglas County.

“I do not see Nancy Pelosi in the room Kevin,” she chastened Yoder. “You’ve mentioned her so many times. If you want to run against Nancy Pelosi you should probably move to California.”

Yoder, an attorney, calls for a smaller government with fewer taxes, regulations and impediments to the free market. She said Moore would be a vote for the Congressional “status quo.”

Moore, a nurse and wife of retiring U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, called herself the only moderate in the race and said she’d work with both parties to find common sense solutions to economic problems. She noted that in 2003 Yoder voted to raise taxes, and said his budget proposals would have cut school funding.

The third candidate in the race is Libertarian Jasmin Talbert, who sat in the middle of the others but stayed mostly above the back-and-forth Wednesday. Talbert said she’s running because she believes both parties have done little but squabble as the economy tumbled.

“I am not a politician,” Talbert said. “I don’t have any friends in Washington or Topeka. I don’t even know anyone at City Hall I think it’s time that someone without political connections ran for federal office.”

Few new policy distinctions emerged Wednesday.

All three candidates support extending the Bush tax cuts – though Moore does not believe they should be made permanent. All three say Congress should not reauthorize No Child Left Behind, and all three said immigration reform is a pressing need.

Yoder and Talbert say the federal health care law was a mistake, where as Moore thinks the new law is a necessary first step with provisions that will help families and small businesses. Yoder and Talbert oppose cap and trade proposals but Moore thinks some restrictions on carbon emissions are needed and will actually benefit Kansas’ green energy economy.

Wednesday’s debate was held at the Sheraton Overland Park and was sponsored by Johnson County area chambers of commerce. At least two more 3rd District debates are scheduled next month.