Trevor Keegan knows he has a daunting challenge in front of him in attempting to secure the Republican nomination for the Kansas 3rd Congressional seat from four-term incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder.
For one, he’s a political newcomer with no experience in elected office. For another, Yoder has a massive war chest and well established campaign operation.
But as the deadline to file in this year’s elections neared, Keegan decided he wasn’t comfortable with Republican voters not having a choice.
“I’m more of a moderate, and I don’t like the idea of there not being a more moderate choice on the ballot,” Keegan said. “This is a more moderate district than Kevin’s voting record. I’m an underdog and I realize that. But it’s good for the district for people to have a choice.”
Keegan, a 34-year-old IT consultant who grew up on a farm in northeast Kansas and has lived in Lenexa the past 12 years, took the plunge and filed for the Republican primary just a couple days ahead of the June 1 deadline.
A registered Republican for as long as he can remember, Keegan characterizes himself as fiscally conservative and socially moderate. He said he’s been disappointed with a handful of aspects of Yoder’s representation during his tenure. For one, he doesn’t believe Yoder has been forthright with constituents about the full ramifications of the tax cut bill passed in December 2017.
“Everybody loves tax cuts. Everybody wants to keep more of their money,” Keegan said. “And Kevin has done a good job of promoting the fact that people are keeping a little more pay and that companies are giving bonuses. But he won’t discuss the budget deficit.”
Keegan said he was taken aback at how Yoder’s position on budget deficits changed between his first years in office, when he was a sharp critic of the stimulus plan pushed by the Obama administration, to present day, where he supported a bill projected to add about $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.
“If we talk about the economy 10 years ago, that was the time to pass a stimulus. The economy was so bad at that point,” Keegan said. “Where we’re at now, the economy is doing really good. Wages haven’t rebounded, but we’re pretty good overall. So this is not the time we should be saying let’s prop the economy up more by doing some deficit spending. This is when we should be paying down debt.”
He rejected Yoder’s suggestion that the tax cuts would spur so much growth that the projected deficits would never materialize.
“There’s going to be growth, but not at the level to wipe out that deficit,” he said. “I think its naive to think we’re going to grow our way out of this.”
Keegan also thinks Yoder could do a better job of connecting with constituents, noting his lack of open town hall meeting and issues he’s experienced getting a response to concerns sent to Yoder’s office.
But his issues with the incumbent aren’t Keegan’s only motivations. He cited the field of Democrats running for their party’s nomination in the race as part of his rationale for entering. Those candidate, by and large, are more liberal than the district as a whole.
“I think those candidates are pushing an agenda that isn’t reflective of this district,” he said. “So if we end up having two bad choices on the general election ballot, Kevin probably wins and we’re no better off than we were before.
Keegan says he and his wife Elizabeth enjoy supporting organizations like Operation Breakthrough, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA), and the Great Plains SPCA.