PITTSBURG, Kan. — Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner, who is running against incumbent Rep. Steve Watkins for the state’s second district congressional seat in the Republican primary, stopped in Pittsburg on Tuesday for a meet-and-greet event at Root Coffeehouse.


LaTurner noted in talking with those in attendance that he grew up in Galena, attended Pittsburg State University, worked at Watco at one point, and met his wife in the area.


He also discussed his opponent, Rep. Watkins — whose campaign has heavily criticized LaTurner, accusing him of corruption and of being a "swamp creature," but who faces serious hurdles to overcome in his own re-election bid since being charged with three felonies earlier this month related to his listing a Topeka UPS store as his residence address for his voter registration.


"He’s using clips from two years ago when he ran against a Democrat in the general, trying to make it seem like Trump is endorsing him in this race," LaTurner said. "Trump is not."


One of those attending the meet-and-greet, Ken Webb of Pittsburg, asked LaTurner about the latest proposal for another COVID-19 recovery economic stimulus package. While both Democrats and Republicans are likely to support another stimulus, LaTurner said, he also said that Trump’s policies had been responsible for the better economic situation prior to the coronavirus crisis.


"We cannot spend our way into prosperity again," LaTurner said, adding, however, that Republicans as well as Democrats have been responsible for excessive spending in the past.


Job losses due to the pandemic are a serious problem, he said, but people should not be making more on unemployment than they were when they were working.


Webb said after hearing from LaTurner he was impressed, and would be voting for him. Jim Ross, who lives in Weir and is supporting President Trump, also said after talking with LaTurner that he would be voting for him in the primary.


Asked by Michelle Kalgren of Pittsburg about vaccination for COVID-19 — if a vaccine becomes available — LaTurner said he supported personal and parental choice on the issue of vaccination. He also said he supports personal choice when it comes to wearing masks to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, and was not wearing a mask during the meet-and-greet at Root.


With the Aug. 4 primary quickly approaching, in response to a question from the Morning Sun, LaTurner said his strategy would not be shifting significantly as he heads toward the November general election, assuming he beats Watkins.


"I mean we’re going to continue to work hard for every single vote and talk about our message — that we need term limits, we need balanced budgets, we need welfare reform to pass at the federal level," LaTurner said. "We’ve got a lot of issues. We need somebody that’s willing to go work on it."