Bollier and Marshall air their differences in Saturday’s debate

Republican Roger Marshall and Democrat Barbara Bollier are two very different candidates, a fact sharply revealed in the state’s first, and perhaps only, Senate debate.



September 23, 2020 - 8:46 AM

U.S. Senate chambers

Republican Roger Marshall and Democrat Barbara Bollier are two very different candidates, a fact sharply revealed in the state’s first, and perhaps only, Senate debate.

Marshall said Bollier does not represent “Kansas values.” He’s wrong, if “Kansas values” mean a respect for facts, science and bipartisan government.

Bollier accused Marshall of “running over the truth,” which was closer to the mark, at least in some parts of the exchange.

Both candidates are doctors. Bollier wants Kansans to wear masks in the face of the COVID pandemic, while Marshall thinks the country is “doing a great job” with the coronavirus, despite 200,000 deaths in six months and a shattered economy.

Marshall opposes expanding Medicaid. Bollier supports it, in part to help rural hospitals.

Bollier supports abortion rights, while Marshall opposes them. It’s unlikely the debate will change many voters’ minds on that issue.

Bollier said the Senate should wait to consider a new justice for the U.S. Supreme Court until after the presidential election, and potentially next year. “Kansans should make their voices heard,” she said, correctly, during Saturday’s debate.

Marshall rejected precedent, and logic, by endorsing a rushed decision on the issue before Election Day.

Yet the clearest differences were evident in tone and approach: Bollier would at least try to reach bipartisan solutions on important issues, while Marshall’s commitment to hyper-divisive politics remains obvious.

Marshall repeatedly claimed Bollier “chose to leave” the Republican Party because she supports Democrats. In truth, the Republican Party left Bollier, and thousands of moderate politicians and voters, long ago. The GOP now largely embraces President Donald Trump’s vision, which consists of division and anger.

Yet at times, Marshall seemed to argue more with the White House than his opponent. He talked about his support for wind energy, for example (“rural America’s going to benefit from that,” he said.)

The president says windmills cause cancer. The Republican failed to discuss that discrepancy.

Most of Saturday’s debate involved farm policy. Marshall defended his work for Kansas agriculture interests, yet it was Trump’s ruinous trade war with China that demolished export markets and cratered farm incomes.

Marshall’s answer? More bailouts from taxpayers, despite evidence that nearly 40 cents of every dollar a farmer earns now comes from the government. And still, farm bankruptcies continue.

BOLLIER’S answers were less than we’d like to see on a couple of issues. She said repeatedly that she opposes the Green New Deal, a package of environmental and economic reforms designed to address the reality of global climate change.

Kansans may not like many of the specifics of the Green New Deal. But they know hurricanes, wildfires and monstrous blizzards are increasingly a reality in their lives, and a crisis the government must address. Bollier owes it to Kansas to be more specific in explaining her response to climate change.

The first debate was bitter at times, but it was informative. We hope the two candidates hold more debates before the election to make their differences clear to every Kansan.