PITTSBURG, Kan. — Johnson County businessman Bob Hamilton, who entered the race for the Republican nomination for US Senate somewhat later than other candidates, at the end of March, visited Pittsburg on Wednesday and spoke with the Morning Sun about why he is running.

"I see the mess that we have in Washington," Hamilton said.

"I’m a businessman, I’m an outsider, I know how to start a business and the fundamentals of running a business and the challenges of starting it," he said. "We need a businessperson up there. We had our best economy in my entire lifetime with President Trump running the show. He’s not a political insider, obviously, but he knows business, he knows how to get the economy going again. I come from the same background."

Hamilton also visited CDL Electric while he was in town, and said people he spoke with there seemed interested in his campaign.

"We have similar backgrounds, so you know, I’m from the plumbing industry, I started electrical too, we had a rooter service and HVAC, and they do all that plus they do a lot more," he said.

"They’re very excited because we speak the same language," Hamilton said. "Because I’m a business person and, you know, talked about how we grew the business."

He also discussed the importance of lowering taxes and reducing regulation and saw "a lot of head nods" in his visit to CDL, he said.

Although donations are appreciated, Hamilton said, he was not in southeast Kansas on Wednesday for any events specifically focused on fundraising.

"I just want to get out and meet people and, you know, beat the streets a little bit," he said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic had prevented him from meeting with potential voters as much as he would have liked to over the past few months.

If he had already been in the Senate, Hamilton would have supported the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, he said.

"I would have voted for it just because the country needed it," he said, "but what I’m absolutely not for is all the extra spending that was in it, you know the $25 million for the Kennedy Center and the $75 million for PBS and Big Bird and all of that. That’s not what the CARES Act was for, the CARES Act is for people who are out of work due to a virus. Why are we spending money on museums that people can’t even go to?"

Hamilton said he has 12 children and his "number one issue" is that he is pro-life.

"And that’s why I want to get up there to help President Trump to get more conservative judges on the bench," he said, "because we are so close, and we can’t lose this election to a Democrat."

Hamilton said he can beat a crowded field of Republican challengers for the party’s nomination, specifically the apparent frontrunners he is competing against, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS 1st District).

"We have one true conservative, but he can’t win in the fall," Hamilton said of Kobach.

"And then we have somebody that thinks he can win in the fall but he’s a moderate," Hamilton said, referring to Marshall, "and I think Kansas wants a true conservative."

Asked about a poll from mid-May that showed Kobach and Marshall leading the race, each with more than 25 percent, while Hamilton had the support of only 6 percent of those polled, Hamilton said he was "already closing" the gap.

Though he would not share specific numbers from internal polling Hamilton said his campaign was conducting, "it was better than we thought it was going to be," he said, "so we’re very encouraged by it."

Positions that make him a true conservative who can win the general election, Hamilton said, include his stances on issues such as immigration.

"I’m pro-Trump wall," he said. "We need to secure our borders to stop the drug trafficking from coming back and forth and the sex trafficking that happens down there. That has to stop. To be a secure nation we need secure borders."

Hamilton also said he’s "a huge 2nd Amendment rights activist," and a National Rifle Association lifetime member.

"I’m not for the socialist gun grabbers to take our guns away because all they want is control," he said. "They don’t care about the guns as much as they want to control us, and that’s what I’m against. We need to have the right to bear arms and to protect our families."

Hamilton rejected the idea that his lack of political experience might prevent him from accomplishing his goals if he is elected.

"What I see is professional politicians that just care about getting reelected and they’re not getting anything done, they’re just fighting with each other," Hamilton said.

"We need somebody that actually can fix it, that can relate to people. You know in business you have to relate to people, you have to get along. That’s all this is, you know, it’s not rocket science to be a politician, and too often we send these guys up there and they don’t know how to fix anything, they don’t know how to get it done."