Two Republicans are facing off Tuesday for the right to run against state Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, in the November election.
Craig Bowser and Bryan Pruitt, both of Manhattan, are running for Kansas Senate District 22, which includes Riley and Clay counties and a portion of Geary County.
Hawk, the incumbent who is seeking a third term, has no Democratic challengers in the primary Tuesday.
Bowser is the chief executive officer of SAVE Farm, a Manhattan organization that assists members of the military transition into the agribusiness field. Bowser is an Army veteran himself, and he has served on the Kansas Commission for Emergency Planning and Response since 2018.
Pruitt is a former political consultant and conservative commentator. He worked for a political consulting firm during the 2000 Presidential campaign cycle and then a health care trade association. He has operated his own political and nonprofit event planning firm, as well as produced a conference for grassroots conservatives.
The Mercury emailed each candidate a set of the same questions. Here are the candidate’s responses. (Some answers have been edited for brevity and length).
If elected, what issue(s) would you give top priority to while in office?
Bowser: Our local economy is in bad shape. Kansas State University has furloughed over 1,800 staff members. Many small businesses in Manhattan have gone out of business. Families are struggling to make ends meet. I will use my proven business experience to bring new businesses and jobs to Manhattan. I will also focus on high quality education, maintaining our highways, and balanced budgets. I will bring new ideas and leadership to the Kansas State Senate.
Pruitt: Pro-Life first. We must pass the Constitutional amendment to allow the state legislature to enact common sense restrictions on abortion. Tax fairness for all and protect religious freedom. Return Fort Riley to full strength. Ensure K-State remains an in-person, on-campus learning experience that supports our local economy. Secure the Republican Party’s future.
While we are still in the midst of handling the coronavirus pandemic, what are your thoughts on current proposals for another stimulus package for Americans, and how would you address the ongoing issue of reopening local economies?
Bowser: Reopening should be handled at the local level. I believe local communities know best what should happen in their communities.
Pruitt: All stimulus should be oriented toward finding a vaccine and getting Americans back to work and our economy returned to full speed safely. We cannot live in fear, and our local communities have been amazing in coming together to protect one another. K-State must remain an in-person, on-campus learning experience that not only supports our student population but the broader economy. I oppose mandates because our communities have done what is recommended to wear masks when necessary and stay socially distant. Our small businesses should be allowed to reopen and return to safe, normal operations.
What are your thoughts on police reform and addressing racial or social inequity in our communities at the state level?
Bowser: I support our law enforcement agencies and strongly oppose defunding the police. I recognize that there needs to be accountability for bad actors in any profession, but especially those we trust to maintain law and order. Transparency and training are the key to better law enforcement.
Pruitt: Peaceful First Amendment expression should be celebrated, but destruction of public or private property cannot be tolerated and violent protesters must be prosecuted. Police reform should be handled at the local level. Bad cops need to go, and leadership must be held accountable. RCPD is a national leader in best practices for policing, and we are blessed to have them keeping our community safe.