Thursday, October 23, 2014

GOP chair files against incumbent in House race

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff WriterL | 6/2/2014

Running for office isn’t about himself, Bob Fluke said. It’s about serving and truly representing the people of Kansas House District 59, he said.

Fluke, who many in the community know as chairman of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee, filed Monday as one of two candidates hoping to unseat incumbent Republican Blaine Finch, Ottawa. Democrat Scott Barnhart filed for the position Thursday.

Running for office isn’t about himself, Bob Fluke said. It’s about serving and truly representing the people of Kansas House District 59, he said.

Fluke, who many in the community know as chairman of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee, filed Monday as one of two candidates hoping to unseat incumbent Republican Blaine Finch, Ottawa. Democrat Scott Barnhart filed for the position Thursday.

Having recently retired after a long career as a school teacher, Fluke said, he has spent his whole life in service to others. Finch, however, has spent the past two years failing to represent the people of his district, he said.

“The people of the 59th District deserve someone up there who actually votes,” Fluke said. “I think in this district, [the representative] needs to vote the will of the people and not the will of yourself.”

Fluke retired from teaching at the end of the 2013-2014 school year, which was his 43rd year as an educator. Before joining the Ottawa Middle School staff in 2007, Fluke spent 30 years as a teacher in the Central Heights school district, according to Herald archives. He began his teaching career during a five-year stint in Cherryvale before moving to Ottawa nearly 40 years ago.

“I have no political step ladder to climb,” Fluke said. “I just want to represent the people of the 59th District.”

No specific issues inspired Fluke to file, he said, but he thinks he can do better than Finch at the Statehouse.

“Once I quit teaching, I decided this was an opportunity, and I decided, at the last minute, to go ahead and file,” he said.

Fluke said Finch was on the top 10 list of lawmakers who missed votes or didn’t vote on legislation in the 2013 session, Finch’s first year in Topeka.

Finch was elected in 2012 and served as chairman of the House Republican Freshman Caucus.

“I just want to be someone who is there to represent the people, not myself,” Fluke said. “I want them to know there is no hidden agenda on my part. My whole purpose is to represent them.”

Republican voters will decide between Fluke and Finch in the Aug. 5 primary election. The winner will face Barnhart in the general election in November.

Barnhart, Ottawa, is no stranger to local ballots. He unsuccessfully ran for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners in 2008, Kansas House of Representatives in 2010 and U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.

Barnhart did not respond Monday to requests for comment.

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