By Greg Mast
The challenge is set for any eastern Kansas politician attempting to win a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Voters have not elected a candidate from that part of the state for a Senate seat in four decades. But that is not deterring Dave Lindstrom (R-Overland Park), a former Kansas City Chiefs defensive end and Johnson County Commissioner, from backing down after announcing his candidacy for Pat Roberts’ seat. In fact, Lindstrom is looking forward to the challenge.
“It has been 40 years since somebody from the northeast part of the state has represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate,” Lindstrom said. “We are cognizant of that. When we made our announcement, we were very thoughtful about that as well.”
Lindstrom is not new to statewide and national politics. He was the Lieutenant. Governor choice of Tim Shallenburger, who lost the general election to Democrat Kathleen Sebelius in 2002.
“That was my first foray into politics,” Lindstrom said. “Why am I running? I am running because the country is under attack. There is rhetoric going on in Washington, D.C. that I would have never thought possible. Talks of programs like socialism. That disturbs me. It sets a bad example for people. It sets an example of entitlement.”
Lindstrom retired from the Chiefs in 1986. Since then, he worked in real estate as a developer and owned and operated four Kansas City-area Burger King franchises. Lindstrom also served on the Johnson County Commission for a decade and is an elected trustee for Johnson County Community College for the past seven years. He is chairman of the nonprofit Kansas Leadership Center Board in Wichita and chairman of the Kansas Turnpike Authority, which oversees the state’s toll road. He was chairman of Kansas Special Olympics, plus is an active member of the Chiefs Ambassadors.
“I know what it is like to employ people,” Lindstrom said. “During the time I was in business, I operated with the philosophy, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ I was blessed to play in the NFL. I was blessed to live in the state of Kansas and Kansas City metropolitan area. I have been compelled to give back to my community, whether it be charitable. For 25 years after retiring from the Chiefs, I have been involved in programs throughout the state of Kansas.”
He along with former Chiefs and Denver Broncos players helped raise more than $2 million for the Northeast Kansas Medical Center in Goodland.
“All of those things have guided me to give back to my community,” Lindstrom said. “I am involved with local chambers and other charities in the metropolitan area.”
Lindstrom started receiving phone calls in January about his interest in running for the open seat.
“I started getting calls from folks that know my background, know how I operated in business, operated in community life and how I operated in politics,” Lindstrom said. “Many of my conservative friends think I am too moderate and my moderate friends think I am too conservative.
“Part of the reason they asked me is they know I get along with folks. I stick to my character. I know where I want to go and who I am. I also know that my opinion is not the only one that matters. The phone calls kept coming and it started making me think ‘let’s give this a look.’ I determined in my mind, my faith, family and finances, all those boxes had to be checked. I was able to do that.”
Lindstrom — even though he lives in the KC metro area — understands rural life, which will be important to gain the support of western Kansas voters.
“We went out to Goodland for a reason,” he said. “Forty percent of our state’s economy is agriculture. We want them to know this northeast [Kansas] Johnson County candidate for U.S. Senate understands the important facet of this state. We went out there for our first announcement [in late June]. We spent two days in Goodland and went on to Garden City and Lakin and Great Bend. We have been talking to people in the northeast part of the state, who are involved in agriculture, as well.”
Lindstrom heard from the state’s farmers that tariffs placed on agricultural products by President Donald Trump is something they can live with.
“To a person throughout the state, they are talking about ‘we support the President,’” Lindstrom said. ”‘Yes, it is short-term pain, but we think there will be a long-term gain.’ That is the patriotism of the farmers and ranchers in this state. I was pleased to hear it.”
Lindstrom said other issues of the campaign are immigration, national security and the deficit.
“We need immigration reform,” Lindstrom said. “I would like to bring some sanity to the immigration issue.”
Lindstrom said the national debt is a huge problem.
“This government overspending is getting crazy,” he said. “I would like to make sure we are not spending more than what we bring in every year. We have a $22 trillion deficit. Our budget is a trillion dollars more than what we take in every year. That is $31,000 and changes every second of the day. It is out of hand and not sustainable. I hope I can bring some stability to politics in Washington, D.C.”
Lindstrom said his life and political views are built around the acronym of AIR.
“We have to have a good Attitude towards what you are doing,” he said. “I do. Do what you say you will do, The ‘I’ is for integrity. That means, if you make a promise, keep the promise. ‘R’ is respect. That is where the civility comes into government. Treating people the way you want to be treated if you are in this situation.”
Lindstrom said the pioneer spirit of Kansans is fading away across the country.
“I want to bring back and recapture that pioneer spirit of Kansas,” he said. “In public service, you can connect people, organizations and governmental entities with other people, organizations and governmental entities. I want to listen to Kansas, business folks and people throughout the country that have issues and need government to step in and help them solve their problems.”
In the next year, Lindstrom will be doing a lot of listening.
“We will be traveling to every county in the state,” he said. “We are going to be responsive to them. I would like to hear what they want. I want them to be open with us. It probably will be a crowded [primary] field. It is good for people of Kansas to have a choice. I am one of those people they have to choose [from].
“I am humbled by the outpouring of support we are getting. I may speak softly. With my background, I have had some big guys try to push me around on the football field. I am sure there are big guys and gals that will attempt to push [me] around in Washington, D.C. I will hold my own when I need to.”