Republican Ice Cream Social has vanilla, candidates

August 06, 2015. Photo by Fred Solis.

By Adam Strunk, Newton Now

The Republican Ice Cream Social ain’t what it used to be. But then again perhaps we need boring.

I’ve looked forward to the event the past three years I’ve covered it.

The Republican President might view the media as the enemy of America.

But the Republican’s of Harvey County are usually pretty friendly to me at the event. A good many subscribe to the paper, so that helps.

We talk about taxes and such. It seems that wherever you are on the spectrum, you can agree on things such as water rates, the viability of a bond issue and the need to hold elected officials accountable.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed working the event and writing the story.

But I found myself let down.

There was no Kris Kobach to headline it. I don’t agree with the man on anything. But he’s a heck of a speaker, even if it’s only to give me something to rail against in a column the next week. And he usually draws protestors.

There was no Mike Pompeo, who again I didn’t see eye to eye with. But he could work a crowd and did have a way of helping clear up problems for some of our smaller governments.

Gone even were the chippy debates between local primary candidates that highlighted last year’s social.

Sen. Carolyn McGinn packs a punch when she gets going, with her dry wit and dead pan delivery of farm sense.

Nope, in her place was just vanilla. Vanilla ice cream, too.

Ron Estes gave a long talk on the need to repeal corporate taxes and provide large companies relief so they can bring all their billions of dollars stashed overseas to the U.S. to squirrel away wherever in hedge funds or trust funds for their over-privileged offspring.

President George the Second tried such a tax holiday for corporations, by the way. Didn’t work. Get with the times, Ron.

Then there were the two governor candidates. So far I think I’ve interviewed perhaps seven or so of what seems like 40 candidates in the last few years, including four in the last few months.

I wasn’t especially impressed by Lieutenant Governor Colyer. The man hates a straight answer. He wants the ship to go a different direction. Meanwhile, he’s been first mate to Ahab for the last eight years as the captain chased the great white whale of the Laffer Curve. That metaphor was perhaps as much a labor as reading Moby Dick, but hey, sinking ships fit when it comes to the state’s administration.

He also spoke about how much the state has saved on KanCare payments. The state is way behind on making KanCare payments. It’s easy to save money when you just don’t pay the bills. It’s way behind on payments to most state healthcare providers. That doesn’t bode well in Newton, with large industries, and if he tries that line with a less friendly crowd, the man’s going to get roasted. I got to talk to Colyer by happenstance, as I was standing waiting to chat with Carolyn McGinn. She was in conversation with Colyer and pulled a “Have you met Adam?” move. I thought I saw her smirk as Colyer got stuck trying to avoid answering actual questions. I didn’t get any more concrete answers than she did.

As for Ken Selzer, he seems like a nice enough certified public accountant. He’s also into the Chisholm Trail, so that’s a plus. His brother was there and seemed like a nice guy. And that’s all I really remember a few days after the fact.

If I had to pick one of the GOP bunch, I’d probably go with Ed O’Malley. The diehards will stone him during the primary, as he seems like he could genuinely make the state a better place. Jim Barnett is fine, too. Hearing him talk, it’s impossible to believe he was the Republican nominee for governor. Now he sounds more like a progressive. How far that party has moved to the right.

There didn’t seem to be much of a hard right present at the park that night.

At the end of the day, everyone had a friendly, if not subdued, outing. No one tried to keep me in a cage. No one started an impromptu “Lock Her Up” chant or yelled about illegal people. No one brought out shields and body armor. There were no red hats. They just ate ice cream and listened to people talk mostly about financial policy. It beckoned to far simpler times, when our country had a political system that functioned. Perhaps those times will one day return.