Today, Wichita businessman and candidate for the Republican Party nomination for the United States House of Representatives from the fourth district of Kansas Wink Hartman kicked off his “Back to Work” tour by meeting with a group of about 15 citizens in a downtown Kingman cafe.
In brief opening remarks, Hartman expressed concern over the direction this country and our state — even families — is going. He said he is a third generation Kansan, born in Wichita, graduating from Southeast High School and Wichita State University. He has five children and six grandsons.
Hartman said he is a businessman, not a politician, and is currently involved in 44 small businesses, with the largest of these having 25 employees. He said people ask him “why are you running for Congress?” Hartman replies by saying he brings a multitude of benefits to the people of the fourth district. He said his business background is important, having taught him how to balance a budget, gave him experience providing health care for his employees, and let him experience and understand the stress of making a payroll continuously. He added that he’s never asked the government to bail him out of anything.
Most people know him for the Hartman Arena, he said. He built it for many reason, but partly because he was told he couldn’t build it. He said he didn’t ask for any government assistance in building the arena, and paid taxes on the money he used to build the arena.
He said “I’m not going to Congress because of what Wink Hartman needs or wants … what it’s all about is what you need and want. Your elected representatives should represent you … not what Wink Hartman wants.”
He said he is the only independent candidate in the fourth district that “does not have a lobbyist on my shoulder.” He said that such people will eventually ask for a favor. His friends, he said, say “Wink doesn’t have a reverse gear.”
In the first question from the audience, a woman asked if there was any way we could get government to start pulling out of the private sector. Hartman replied that government has become intrusive, with increasing regulation and size. He said that the only way to get government out of your life is through the people you elect to send to Congress. A new direction requires new people, he added.
What about members of Congress who have ethical problems? Hartman said that Washington has a herd mentality, and that fresh blood and new thinking is needed in Washington to clean up the mess.
A gentleman remarked that our nation’s troubles started when we took God out of our lives. Hartman agreed. He said that he was raised in the Episcopal church, and that his walk with the Lord “got a little bit strained and frayed in my mid-years.” At Central Christian Church, which he attends now, a recent sermon impressed upon him that “believers need to turn into disciples.” The difference, he explained, is that disciples are 24/7 believers.
He added that he is on the board of directors of the Jesus prom. This event allows students with disabilities to attend an event like a high school prom. Last year he said 543 people attended.
On funded abortions, Hartman said he is totally against this.
A question asked about the differences between Hartman and Mike Pompeo, another Wichita businessman and candidate for the fourth district Republican nomination. Hartman said that he does not have a law degree, as does Pompeo.
As a second area of difference, Hartman said that he has truly created businesses from the ground up, and Pompeo has not. In his stump speech and on his website, however, Pompeo notes his accomplishment in founding Thayer Aerospace, a major aviation contractor that grew to over 500 employees.
On national energy policy, Hartman said that the Obama administration has sent $2 billion to Brazil so that country can drill offshore for oil hat will be sold to China. Of what benefit is that to American taxpayers, he asked? He said that the United States and North America has huge oil and oil shale reserves that we could tap. He also said that although he is in the oil business, he believes in “all of the above,” meaning that we should seek diversified sources of energy, including nuclear power, which he said is a good short-term answer. Wind energy has a place, he said, but a problem is our aging electrical power grid.
On national priorities, Hartman said that our first responsibility is national security, with our blooming national debt in second place.
Hartman said we have a serious problem with illegal immigration, noting that there are legal ways to immigrate to the United States. Referring to a case about an ill woman who is in the United States illegally, Hartman said that she could return to her original country to receive medical care.
Speaking about his process for making decisions, Hartman said that he doesn’t have the answers to all questions and problems. What he does in business is to gather people who have knowledge and experience, and together they make decisions.
On education, Hartman said that education needs to be administered locally by the community and parents. Also, not everyone needs to have a college degree. Vocational and technical education has a stigma, he said, but children should be educated so they can provide for themselves. Many trades pay well, he added.