PITTSBURG, Kan. — Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS 1st District), who is campaigning for US Senate, stopped in southeast Kansas on Thursday, visiting the local GNBank branch in Pittsburg to discuss the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as some of the businesses that received loans through the program.
"The Paycheck Protection Program was I think one of the greatest things that the federal government’s ever rolled out," Marshall said. "In Kansas alone there were 50,000 loans for a total of $5 billion and it saved about 420,000 Kansans’ jobs to keep them employed through the COVID crisis."
GNBank has provided hundreds of forgivable loans through the PPP since the program was launched, covering payroll and similar costs for most eligible businesses in the area during the coronavirus lockdown, said Mark Schifferdecker, GNBank president and CEO.
"And so round two there’s still money available," he said, for any eligible local businesses that may have not taken advantage of the program. "So we’re really proud of that and happy with that, that we could get the money out. It’s about $62 million that our bank handled to get out into the community."
Although Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle recently dropped her bid for the US Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), who is not running for reelection, several others including former Kansas City Chiefs player Dave Lindstrom, Johnson County businessman Bob Hamilton, and "Republican Socialist" Brian Matlock have officially declared their candidacy for the Republican nomination. On Thursday, though, Marshall said his only serious competitor was former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
"I think the biggest difference between my opponent and myself is that he’s a failed candidate, that he failed the Republican Party and now we have a Democrat governor," Marshall said. "What’s going to be an issue for the nation this year is, will we keep a Republican majority or not? And we cannot afford to send a failed candidate who’s going to lose a general election to Barbara Bollier, versus we will beat her by 10 or 15 points, he would lose that seat."
On the subject of COVID-19 and its ongoing impact on the economy, Marshall said it was good to see that the Kansas economy was able to reopen "and so far so good, that we’re not seeing a big spike again, so we’re doing something right at keeping the coronavirus under control."
As far as another round of stimulus programs, "probably in July is when we’ll be ready to actually look at something serious," Marshall said, adding that his biggest priority would be liability protection. "So when the president at Pittsburg State University opens this fall again and if somebody gets sick, that he has liability protection. Visiting your manufacturing plants around here, if one of their employees gets sick, you know you do the best practices you can, but some people are still going to get sick, so we need liability protection."
Marshall also weighed in on the recent nationwide protests and violence in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and President Trump’s suggestions for how it should be dealt with.
"I’m with the president, that I believe in law and order. That being said though, the murder of George Floyd was a tragedy. My dad was the chief of police in El Dorado for 25 years. He set a very high bar for his police officers. And these officers not only fell below that bar, they actually committed a crime. So I want justice to be swiftly served. What my dad always talked a lot about though was that two wrongs don’t make a right," Marshall said.
"So certainly I’m in favor of peaceful protest, it’s our constitutional right to do that, but we have to be a land of law and order, we have to protect people’s lives and property, and looting and rioting and vandalism is wrong, so whatever we need to do to calm the riots needs to happen. So I’m very much in favor if we need to call up the National Guard, let’s call them out, but so far — Kansas? Pretty stable. I know we had a couple of little flare ups but I think we’re going in the right direction for right now."
Marshall also discussed his recent appeal of the decision by the Kansas secretary of state’s office to deny his request to be listed on the ballot as Roger "Doc" Marshall.
"Look, all my friends call me ‘Doc,’" Marshall said. "It is, you know, my nickname, so to speak, and I think that’s what the Kansas law would describe, but it’s not a major issue to me one way or the other, so whatever they decide is fine with me."