Elections

Goyle pushes bipartisan solutions

Anger at Washington: It's not just for Republicans anymore.

Raj Goyle, Democratic candidate for Congress in the Kansas 4th District, says he's mad at both parties for squandering the prosperity of the Clinton years.

"I'll tell you what I'm angry about, the fact that both parties, over a decade, have failed to keep our economy on track and keep it growing, and (they) let this recession grow so out of control," said Goyle, a state representative from Wichita.

"If you think about it, they let the banks get away with everything they wanted, by deregulating the banks, and then they bailed them out with our taxpayer money," he said. "And instead of the CEOs of these banks getting fired, they got bonuses with taxpayer money. I mean that's just wrong."

Protecting American jobs and cutting the deficit are key to fixing the economy, Goyle said.

"First thing I will do is work to repeal those tax breaks and loopholes that incentivize American companies to ship jobs overseas," Goyle said. "The second thing is to restore fiscal discipline to Washington.

"I'm proud to be a fiscal conservative, and I think we need to come together in a bipartisan manner and make sure that we attack our deficit, cut wasteful spending and make sure that we return to the surpluses of 10 years ago."

He called President Obama's creation of a bipartisan commission on the deficit "a very important first step."

"If anybody thinks that there's not waste in the federal government budget, I certainly haven't met them," Goyle said. "There are core priorities that we have to invest in — innovation, research, education, defense — but there are also things that in a tough economic recovery that we need to have the stomach to cut, and we need people who will step up and do that."

Shared solutions

The running theme of Goyle's campaign is reaching across the partisan divide to come up with shared solutions to the nation's problems.

"People feel that in Washington, the politicians are not looking out for them," Goyle said. "It's an affliction of both parties and several administrations."

"I think people... want somebody who's going to be an independent voice and work with anyone who advocates for policies that are good for south-central Kansas," he said.

One of Goyle's major state legislative accomplishments was a bill to change eligibility rules for unemployment insurance. Passage brought Kansas an extra $69 million in federal stimulus money to pay benefits to workers displaced by the recession.

As an example of his bipartisan outreach, Goyle cites a bill he wrote limiting funeral protests by the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka. Getting it through the House and Senate required support from Democrats, Republicans and outside groups such as Patriot Guard motorcyclists, he said.

Goyle's primary opponent, Robert Tillman, has made support of President Obama and his policies the centerpiece of his campaign.

Goyle, who was an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention, has a more nuanced approach.

"The problem, really, (is) people want to focus on the president," Goyle said. "The issue frankly is that both parties and the system in Washington... are not stepping up to face the problems that really affect the country and the voters here."

If doing that means opposing Obama on some issues, Goyle said he's ready.

"I'll support the president when he advances policies that benefit Kansas and oppose the president when he advocates policies that aren't good for Kansas," Goyle said.

Stresses independence

Goyle seldom mentions his party affiliation in campaigning, more often using the word "independent" to describe himself.

He annoyed some in his party in this year's legislative session by not backing Gov. Mark Parkinson's call for a temporary sales tax increase to bridge the state's budget gap.

Simultaneously, some conservatives asserted Goyle had undergone an election-year conversion and voted no to deny Republicans an issue to use against him.

Goyle has said he opposed the tax increase because it applies to food, medicine and other essentials.

One issue where Goyle shuns compromise is lobbying.

He refuses to accept anything from Statehouse lobbyists, who ply some other lawmakers with trips, meals, gifts and event tickets.

He said he will carry that policy to Washington if elected.

Goyle is a prolific fundraiser with a national network of contributors, including contacts from his time as a Washington lawyer, and Indian-American attorneys and physicians.

For his congressional race, Goyle has raised more than $1.2 million and has cash on hand of nearly $900,000.

Grew up in Wichita

Goyle was born in Cleveland, but his family moved to Wichita when he was nine months old.

Goyle's parents are physicians with a small clinic in Wichita.

Goyle stayed in Wichita through high school, where he became involved in public services such as river cleanup and starting a recycling program for area high schools.

He went to college at Duke University and was a summer intern in The Eagle's newsroom.

Goyle went on to Harvard Law School. After graduating, he clerked for a federal judge and spent two years on a fellowship working with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project.

Goyle said he expects to be challenged on that if he faces a conservative Republican in the general election, but he's ready to defend it.

He said with the ACLU, he primarily worked on education reform and voting rights cases. He said his biggest case was representing the National Federation for the Blind in a class-action suit that won sight-impaired Maryland voters the right to a secret ballot.

Goyle also worked as a senior policy analyst for the Center for American Progress in Washington and as a researcher for the NAACP and for the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Goyle said he started thinking about returning to Kansas when he took four months off in 2002 and came back to care for his father, who was ill.

He said "that really got the ball rolling on coming back here for good," which he did in 2005.

Goyle's wife, Monica, is also an attorney. Their first child, daughter Ana Kumari Goyle, was born Dec. 31.

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