Susan Wagle, current Kansas Senate President and candidate for the U.S. Senate, joined a Zoom meeting with the College Republicans Monday night to promote her campaign and answer questions.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Kansas GOP chairman Mike Kuckelman asked Wagle to suspend her campaign. Wagle refused the request, citing data from a poll that she’s ranked low in. The poll, Wagle said, didn’t even include her as a possible candidate in the race.
“Of course, I’m polling at five percent when you don’t say anything about Susan Wagle being in the race,” Wagle said.
Wagle said people were upset with Kuckelman’s request because it showed a clear bias for other candidates, and overstepped the authority of his position.
“I know of women getting together to write a letter saying ‘Why are you so biased? That’s not your role as chairman’,” Wagle said.
One of Wagle’s biggest concerns for Kansas voters is identity voting, which is voting for someone who you identify with. This identity voting could hurt the Kansas Republican Party due to the lack of diversity, Wagle said.
“We have very few women elected compared to the Democrats,” Wagle said. “We need to be a more diverse party if we want to remain relevant.”
Wagle said she decided to run for the U.S. Senate because her family told her she’d be a great candidate.
“They said to me, ‘Mom we need you there,’” Wagle said.
One of Wagle’s goals is winning back Kansas’s third congressional district, which includes Johnson County.
“Johnson County is not big Trumpers, once they vote for a Democrat it is hard to pull them back,” she said.
When asked about how she would have handled the novel coronavirus pandemic compared to Gov. Laura Kelly, she said she believes Kansas needs to open up. She said she doesn’t think schools, universities and businesses should have shut down for the year, and she would like to see them start opening back up again.
“With what we knew when corona first happened, yes, shutting things down for a while was necessary,” she said. “Weeks later, we now know it doesn’t have the impact we thought it would. Young people need to be out.”
Wagle and other members of the Legislative Coordinating Council in Kansas tried to overrule the Governor’s limitations to religious gatherings. The attempt to bypass the order was tossed out by the Kansas Supreme Court who declared the council didn’t have the authority to do so.
“As Republicans, we took issue with that executive order and Susan stood up for us on that issue,” Joshua Willis, junior in political science and president of College Republicans, said.
Compared to some other Republican candidates for the contested Senate seat, Wagle calls herself a true conservative.
“She has been a good advocate for Republican views,” Willis said. “She understands what is happening.”
Despite campaign complications caused by the spreading pandemic and Kuckelman’s actions, Wagle said she is confident that she will be elected to the U.S. Senate.