(Editor’s note: This interview with U.S. senate candidate Dave Lindstrom, R-Overland Park, has been edited for length)
EL DORADO — With a background in the National Football League, Dave Lindstrom is no stranger to the grind.
The candidate for the state’s U.S. senate seat currently taken up by Pat Roberts — who announced he will not run for re-election — came by the Times-Gazette office Friday to discuss his campaign and goals if elected. Beforehand, Lindstrom visited Newton and city leaders in Andover.
Lindstrom played in the NFL for nine years, eight with the Kansas City Chiefs at defensive end under head coach Marv Levy.
He retired in 1986 under his own terms, he said.
“I had a business opportunity to open my own Burger King restaurants,” Lindstrom said. “I went to the coach and told him what my plans were. He said ‘Dave we don’t want you to leave, we have a place for you here, but we understand you have to do what you need to do.’”
He owned four Burger King restaurants in the Kansas City area, three of which were located in Kansas.
Lindstrom noted his business and civic leadership background as strong points for his candidacy.
How did you decide to run for the U.S. Senate and what are some of your key points of interest?
“I had to figure out, first of all, whether or not this was going to be right for myself and for my family. I was able to check off three boxes: my faith, my family and finances. This coordinated with those three things in my life, so I was able to move forward and at least explore the possibility. After a while I was able to conclude that there are some things going on is Washington that I am not real happy about — things that I realized before, but that I really focused in on when I was exploring the possibility of running for senate. I think the country is under attack in many respects. I think [there are] people who are in elected positions in Washington D.C. who are espousing the concept of socialism as a mainstream concept, which is foreign to me. The people of Kansas are welcoming people, they are hard-working people, they are people who know about the concept of sacrifice, but they are not people who expect entitlement. They are people that understand achievement comes through hard work and sacrifice.”
That is just one of the reasons I think the country is under attack. I think the country is under attack when we have elected officials, again in Washington D.C., calling for open borders at our southern border. I mentioned earlier I had 125 employees. What I didn’t mention is the turnover in those employees was about 250 percent a year, which meant that we were always recruiting and retaining. You can’t go down a main street anywhere in this country and not see a business with a help wanted sign. We need to reform immigration in this country. We need to welcome immigrants in this country, but we need to secure our borders so that they are coming into this country in a legal manner.
The third reason why I decided to run as well is that I think the country is not at an advantage when we have elected officials in Washington D.C., republicans and democrats, who are agreeing to add a trillion dollars every year to an already $22 trillion deficit. I don’t think that is sustainable. I’d like to see a balanced budge amendment.
What do you bring to the table that other republicans who have filed for office do not?
I am focused on what I need to do to be the next U.S. senator in the state of Kansas. The things that I think I bring is I bring someone who knows how to work really hard. You don’t make it in the NFL by just putting a uniform on. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and teamwork. It takes the ability to persevere through pain, disappointment and defeat. All of those things I think have prepared me well for the rigors of Washington D.C. and for the fight of defending this country, which I think is under attack. I also think with my background as a business owner, I know what it is like to create jobs. I had 125 employees, I know what it is like to retain and train folks. I’ve signed the front and the back of a check. I know what it is like to own my own business and take that risk. That is something that I offer that I don’t think the other folks who have announced can offer. I also offer a lifetime of giving back to my community and civic leadership. I am currently chairman of the Kansas Turnpike Authority and also chairman of the Kansas Leadership Center which is housed in Wichita. I am a trustee for Johnson County Community College. I have done that for seven years. I was an elected county commissioner in Johnson County for 10 years. In 2002, I ran for Lt. Governor. I was Tim Shalleburger’s running mate. All of those things in conjunction with the fact that I’ve been involved with many charitable organizations throughout the state as well, including Kansas Special Olympics and many of the things that the former players do in the Chief Ambassadors.
With trade tariffs and other difficulties facing Kansas agriculture, what is your campaign’s take on supporting Kansas farmers?
We made our announcement that we were going to be a candidate in the state of Kansas for the senate seat — we went out to Goodland in ag country in the state because we want those folks to know that our campaign is going to be sensitive to agriculture in the state. Agriculture is 40 percent of the state’s economy, which is important, so we wanted folks to know that we understand that. In doing that, we have been to other communities and I’ve had a chance to talk with many people in the ag industry, farmers and ranchers. In my mind, they have had it really difficult this year especially with the rain that has affected their crops already. I think our farmers are patriots because not only do they already have difficult times dealing with the weather, but on top of that they are dealing with tariffs that are impeding the production and sale of their goods even more. I say patriots because they are sacrificing what could be more profits for them by going along with the policies of the president. They are willing to support the president and they think the president is doing a good job in this regard because he is trying to level the playing field. Right now, the playing field is not level. It is tilted towards China. The president is trying to correct that, and the farmers have told me that they are willing to suffer short-term pain for long-term gain of getting that playing field level. What they don’t want is they don’t want to become martyrs. They are fine to be patriots and work hard and make sacrifices for this country in that regard, but when I say short-term pain, there is a limitation on what they call ‘short-term.’
Speaking on the U.S. border, what in your opinion is the best way to go about securing it?
Fund the wall where we need the wall. There are places where a wall might not be necessary, where there is water and other geographical challenges. The second thing I think we need to do is fun the personnel to man the security on the southern border.
The current senate seat has been manned by Pat Roberts since 1997. What are some changes you would make differing from Roberts if elected into that position?
Pat Roberts have done a great job. His shoes are going to be hard to fill. That is a wonderful representative of the state of Kansas and he has done a wonderful job there too. I think I bring a little different perspective with my background in business and background in sports. I wouldn’t pretend to be able to fill his shoes, but I do think that I offer some things a little significantly different.
Is there anything that U.S. President Donald Trump has done in his tenure that you support and, vice versa, any stances you disagree with him on?
I have been married 40 years now. My wife and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. I can tell you, we stick together because we made a commitment to each other. But there are times where we disagree on things vehemently and we talk them out. Are there areas of the president that I agree with? Absolutely. How do you disagree with the economy and the unemployment where it is today? That is a reflection of his policies and deregulation. Areas where I think I may have a little bit of a different than the president is style. I think I have a different style than the president. He is a combative guy and he is a New Yorker, and I think that is a style that is predicated on when there are so many people that is how you herd. I do things a little bit differently in that regard. I think I am strong on issues, but I present them in a different manner.