State Senate candidate to focus on development, education in campaign
Leavenworth businessman Steve Fitzgerald is running again for the 5th District Kansas Senate seat.
Fitzgerald, a Republican, lost the 2004 race to the incumbent, Mark Gilstrap, D-Kansas City, by about 800 votes out of more than 25,000 votes cast.
"I don't feel like I lost," Fitzgerald explained last week, "I feel like I ran out of time."
The 5th District includes parts of Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties, including the cities of Lansing and Leavenworth. Fitzgerald won the Leavenworth County vote but was turned back in Wyandotte County.
"Obviously I'll spend more time in Wyandotte County," he said. "I didn't campaign at all in Wyandotte last time -- very little anyway."
Fitzgerald said he didn't start his 2004 campaign until June. This time around, he's beginning a year ahead of the general election, which he said should help him gain more name recognition in Wyandotte County.
"We still have a large part of our (campaign) organization intact, and we've added to it as well, so that will be helpful," he said.
He again is pressing a conservative agenda, making a case for lower taxes and stemming state spending. In addition, he said he would push for more economic development in the area, building on the successes enjoyed around the Kansas Speedway in western Wyandotte County.
"The speedway area is great; we just haven't seen it up here," he noted. "Leavenworth-Lansing really does need more economic development, and the whole district needs a break on taxes."
Fitzgerald, who serves on the Leavenworth School Board, said education would be a top priority of his.
"Education is the largest item on the state budget," he said. "We put an awful lot of money into that item. It's one of the top priorities in the state."
Fitzgerald said he expected to have opposition in the GOP primary ahead of next November's election.
"As close as I came last time, from being an unknown, I think I've shown the incumbent is vulnerable. That's got to be attractive," he said.