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Meet The 4th Congressional Candidates: Ron Estes

Deborah Shaar

Voters in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District head to the polls next week to pick their new representative. Mike Pompeo resigned from Congress in January when he became CIA director.

The three candidates in the special election were chosen at their respective party nominating conventions in February

Republican nominee Ron Estes has served as Kansas' state treasurer for the past seven years.

His public service career began in Sedgwick County, where he served two terms as county treasurer. Estes has also worked in the aerospace, oil and gas, and manufacturing industries.

He recently spoke to KMUW's Deborah Shaar about the race and his campaign for the 4th District. Below are highlights of their conversation:

On why he's running for Congress:

I really started looking at it seriously a year ago, when Mike Pompeo looked at running for the U.S. Senate. When I first ran for state treasurer, of course, I wanted to apply some of those good business techniques that I'd learned in the business world of making our office efficient and effective. And what I saw at the State Treasurer's office was that some of the things I wanted to do, I couldn't because of the laws or the rules and regulations coming out of Washington. So I thought let's go to the source and solve the problem there.

On his opponent's campaign strategy:

I think a couple of groups that support my opponent had meetings and they called them "candidate debates." They knew I wasn't going to be there because of other obligations, whether it was going to the Delano parade was during one of those, or working at KPERS at that KPERS meeting. So we focused on going across the district. We've been to all 17 counties in the district, and I have talked to folks in their homes, in the coffee shops and at a place of business, and trying to work with them on the issues that are important to them. I think this is really just a deflection from, you know, the issues that we really ought to talk about of how do we make the federal government more efficient, how do we roll back some of those regulations that are burdening government and burdening us as individuals and businesses, and making sure that we can get the country moving forward.

On economic growth:

Probably the two biggest things to look at from that standpoint are one, just the regulatory burden. A lot of manufacturing in the United States over the last 30 years has been moved overseas partly because of the rules and regulations that you get burdened with here. I liked that President Trump said that for every new regulation we implement, we want to get rid of two, and actually, I'd look at getting rid of more than two so that we can actually free up the economic growth. The second thing that we need to talk about, and keep making sure that we push forward, is trade with our district. The 4th District, the way it's structured, free and fair trade across the world is important for us so that when we can ship our foreign products out, we can ship our manufactured products out with a great economic value for us in the fourth district.

On the Trump administration's stance on renegotiating trade policies:

I'd be supportive of that. I think some of the things that the president said during the campaign made it sound like he was against trade. I think once he's been in office, it's been a little bit clearer that he was talking mainly about [making] trade fair and [looking] at some of those trade agreements that have been set up over the years.

On the 4th Congressional District race being the first race since Trump took office:

I think at the end of the day people are going to say that you know the people in 4th District are really supportive of the president. They're impressed with the things he's done so far. The folks that he brought into his cabinet, you know, including Mike Pompeo as CIA director, as well as some of the things that he'd actually campaigned on. And now he's following through and doing them, which people find refreshing in a politician to actually do what they say they did.

On the message he wants to send to voters:

Probably the two biggest things of why I ran are one, the regulatory burden. How do we how do we relieve that so that we can get the economy growing, get individuals back to have an opportunity to conduct their lives freely and fair. The second thing I really want to focus on is [getting] the federal budget under control. You know, during the Bush administration, our national debt doubled from five trillion dollars to 10 trillion dollars. And during the Obama administration, it doubled again from 10 trillion dollars to almost 20 trillion dollars. And we've got to get our budget balanced so that we can start paying down that debt otherwise the debt that we will leave our children and grandchildren will be too big a burden for them. And I don't want to do that to the next generation.

This is the third in a series of profiles on the congressional candidates. You can listen to part one, a profile on Libertarian candidate Chris Rockhold, and part two, a profile on Democratic Candidate James Thompson, here.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.


Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.