Thursday, October 09, 2008

Brothers Combine Resources, Ideology in Separate “Senate” Runs

For: Hodgkinson for Kansas Senate
& Hodgkinson for U.S. Senate
From: Christopher Carter (913) 980-0401
Release verification and candidate availability…
Rob Hodgkinson/ (913) 980-9269

Brothers Combine Resources, Ideology in Separate “Senate” Runs

Stilwell & Topeka, Ks. -- How opposed to wasteful spending are brothers Rob and Randall Hodgkinson? Enough that yard signs for the two simply say “Hodgkinson, Senate.” Never mind that Rob’s run is to represent the 37th Senate District in Kansas, while Randall’s aiming for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Pat Roberts.

“One large allotment of signs cost less than two smaller ‘customized’ orders,” said Randall, at 41 the younger of the Hodgkinsons, “so there seemed little point in spending more when the signs work equally well for both.”

It’s typical of the common sense approach the two Libertarian candidates are highlighting as they woo voters for the November 4th general election. A core message that Libertarians today are not the party of radical, offbeat ideas that’s kept them on the political “fringe” in the past.

“We, that is Libertarian candidates and leaders, are redefining the party rather than allowing it to define us,” said Rob, whose 37th Senate District encompasses a sizable portion of southern Johnson County. Moreover, Rob would know -- he’s chair of the Libertarian Party in Kansas, as well as a candidate.

“My stance on many issues reflects general population sentiment,” said Rob, “and most Johnson Countians are surprised when they hear me speak to the need for strong public education, less taxation and a sensible approach to the social issues, a common sense approach that gets much less attention than it deserves.”

Most startling of all, to many mainstream voters, according to Rob, is the willingness -- enthusiasm, even -- of Libertarians to work within the system as they try to change it. “The notion that Libertarians are anti-government to the point of anarchy simply is outdated and has been for some time,” Rob continued. “I believe in government, but small government,” he said, “and dissatisfaction with programs such as ‘No Child Left Behind’ among both Republicans and Democrats underscores how the country is moving in the same direction Libertarians always have promoted.”

Taxation (Rob supports the repeal of sales tax on food, calling it “regressive”), local control of schools, and limiting the power of eminent domain (for private use) lead Rob’s 37th Senate District profile. Brother Randall’s issues are of national, rather than local, scope, but the “less is more” brand of Libertarianism marks his approach to governing, too.

“Libertarians, as a party, were the first to oppose U.S. involvement in Iraq,” Randall said. And he noted that the Party’s new progressive stand on many issues -- making the Internet tax moratorium permanent, decoupling health insurance from employment (he sees a role for government in providing healthcare) -- were touted by Libertarians, and the Hodgkinsons, long before being embraced by many in the traditional parties. Randall’s call for federal involvement in protecting the environment speaks to the open-mindedness about the role government can play.

Randall’s principal issue is one of, well; principle…and one that’s particularly close to his professional passion: the “Rule of Law,” which he asserts has been seriously undermined by the current White House administration.

An attorney employed by the State of Kansas, Randall expressed concern about a wide gamut of Fourth Amendment and human rights issues brought to the fore by recent Justice Department decisions. He pointed to allegations of torture in U.S. treatment of foreign detainees, and to what he calls “arbitrary” application of the Patriot Act. But most important to Randall is the “disconnect” he believes exists between such actions and the public.

“Too little attention is paid to how these uses -- abuses, really -- of power affect you and me,” Randall said. “One can, and should, be concerned about the specifics of how domestic spying can affect individuals in a real, day-to-day way,” he continued, “but equally important is the ‘culture’ of government abuse that can take root. We have accepted government intrusion into our lives far too easily.”

On that point and others, such as the need for greater fiscal responsibility at all levels of government, the Hodgkinsons do hearken to the Libertarian tradition. It’s in evidence when Rob calls personal freedom his “true North.”

It’s an independence honestly founded. Fifth-generation Kansans (growing up in Hutchinson), the Hodgkinsons share a family history of “doing for oneself,” including a great-grandmother who wrote about the family experiences and importance of true local support of a community school, when none was readily available in the family’s rural community.

As for seeing the possibilities of winning election, the brothers agree that Libertarians in Kansas are moving past the point where just “spreading the message” is enough. Current polls place Randall at a level that would officially guarantee “major party” status for Libertarians by the state in 2010 if the candidate for Governor garners the same support levels.

It would be an important milestone, according to Rob. “While we rarely aspire to patterning ourselves after Republicans and Democrats,” he said, “major party status is one similarity we would welcome.”

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