Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Jason Buckley saw an opportunity to run this election as he said he sees a division in the United States.

“I think there’s a lot of disenfranchised voters out there that might be looking somewhere else,” he said. “They may have not even heard of Libertarians before, so I think I really have a good chance to take this thing. And at the very minimum, let people learn about our party and what we stand for.”

Buckley, who lives in Overland Park, talked to The Mercury via phone last week about his campaign. He is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Roberts.

He said he wants to drive down the country’s debt.

“It’s unsustainable and that includes the deficit that causes this debt to happen,” he said. “Yes, there’s a lot of other things that I want to do, and that should be worked on. But if this one thing alone is not resolved, nothing else will matter because it will lead to a financial collapse of this country.”

He said he doesn’t want to raise taxes. “We as a society are taxed far enough,” Buckley said.

Buckley said he did not want to let those in Washington, D.C., control what is going on in Kansas.

“We as Kansans will thrive if they will get off our backs and allow our economy and us to be who we are, which is Kansans,” he said. “We’re not Californians, we’re not New Yorkers, we’re not even Texans. We’re Kansans. So I say, ‘Let’s get down to Kansans doing their thing.’ I guarantee you, the government gets off our back, and Kansas can do what Kansas does best, there will be many states that will strive to copy what happens here.”

He said he is interested in ending corporate welfare, bringing all troops home, protecting Americans’ rights and reforming the criminal justice system.

Buckley has never held office before. He’s previously run for a county commission seat in Platte County, Missouri, as a Republican. Buckley is a Navy veteran; he served for six years. Since then, he’s done IT work. He also served on the Mid-Continent Public Library Board of Trustees.

Buckley said he believes many politicians and candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, give a lot of empty promises.

“What they say they’re going to do while they’re running for office, and even if they’re seeking re-election, is usually different from how they are as a candidate,” he said.

There are two Democrats and 11 Republicans in the race. The GOP candidates include former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, who represents Manhattan in the Kansas 1st Congressional District.

Buckley, the only Libertarian in the race, said he wants to let people be as free as possible.

“I don’t want anybody to be able to tell someone else how they should or shouldn’t live,” he said. “I want the government to be the least intrusive in people’s lives.”

He said he didn’t approve of the mask executive order by Gov. Laura Kelly, which mandates people wear masks in public during the coronavirus outbreak. Buckley, who said he wears a mask, said he thinks it’s unconstitutional.

“She doesn’t have the right to demand people wear masks,” he said. “Now, I fully support people listening to medical experts.”

When looking at President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, he said he thinks Trump should have let the medical professionals give their advice and stay out of it.

“The best thing Trump could have done was just not talk about it, let the medical professionals give their advice and do that and stay out of the way of it,” he said.