Pulling a page out of Barack Obama's campaign playbook, state Rep. Raj Goyle officially launched his campaign for the 4th District congressional seat Monday with a series of house parties and calls for bipartisan cooperation in Washington.
Proclaiming "good ideas do not come with a party label," Goyle unveiled his stump speech at a campaign kickoff on the porch of his east Wichita home.
As a Democrat running in a Republican-heavy congressional district, Goyle is hoping to — and needs to — attract independents and crossover Republicans in the November election.
He said he's angry with Washington for dividing into partisan camps and failing to reach agreement on how to deal with issues such the economy and high unemployment.
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Goyle said his first action if he goes to Congress will be to fight to "repeal tax cuts for businesses that ship jobs overseas," an often-stated priority of Democrats.
But he also highlighted his opposition at the Statehouse to the one-percentage-point sales tax increase the Legislature recently passed to balance the budget. That represented a break by Goyle from most of his party, who followed along with Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson's proposal for the tax increase.
As another example of bipartisanship, Goyle noted the unanimous approval of a bill he wrote to restrict the Rev. Fred Phelps and his anti-gay protest group from demonstrating at military funerals.
Goyle was scheduled to follow up his morning announcement with a series of 29 house parties Monday evening throughout the 4th District. Obama made extensive use of such parties to drum up support in the early days of his successful bid for the presidency.
In the August Democratic primary, Goyle is facing Robert Tillman, a retired court services officer.
For the past several months, the Republican primary has been a highly competitive four-way race between state Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita; Republican National Committeeman Mike Pompeo; oil, football and restaurant businessman Wink Hartman; and retired airline pilot and small-business owner Jim Anderson. A fifth candidate, Paij Rutschman of Latham, recently filed to enter the race but could not be reached for comment.
The 4th District seat is open because U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, is leaving the House to run for Senate against Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays.