Hutchinson resident Brandon Williams said he is one of the late additions to the 2020 race for the 1st Congressional District seat because this is his first campaign and he wanted to put thought into the issues before entering the contest.

Williams, 37, is the manager of Walmart, 1905 E. 17th Ave., and is running in the Democratic primary in August 2020. He follows Kali Barnett, Garden City, a former teacher, who started campaigning in the summer for the Democratic nomination. Williams filed a candidacy statement with the Federal Election Commission in September, before Cottonwood Falls Democrat Christy Davis, former executive director of Symphony in the Flint Hills, filed in October.

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Great Bend, is running for the U.S. Senate next year, and that prompted interest in his House seat. Republicans in the 1st District primary race include former Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann, Salina; State Rep. Troy Waymaster, Bunker Hill; Finney County Commissioner Bill Clifford; and Council Grove resident Michael Soetaert. 

“I’m running because Washington needs to change," Williams said. "I’m tired of seeing the career politicians bought out by big corporations and lobbyists. I’m tired of seeing everyday Kansans struggle to make ends meet. They aren’t making a living wage and jobs are leaving rural America.

“Health care is too expensive, college is too expensive. Everyone deserves a shot at the American dream."

In particular, Williams said, agriculture and reinvigorating the economy are issues of importance in the 1st District, which covers 63 of Kansas’ 105 counties.

Agriculture is “consistently being thrown under the bus” by President Donald Trump’s trade wars, Williams said.

Support of rural hospitals and schools is key, and small business needs to be a priority, too, in Williams’ view. Tax breaks should not be just for big corporations, he said.

Williams favors increasing the number of tax brackets to help workers. The employer should not be taxed less than the workers, he said.

Williams said he’s lived the “vast majority" of his life in Kansas, raised by two blue-collar parents. His father was a roughneck in the oilfield and his mother had various jobs, he said.

Williams has worked with Walmart for 21 years. A job opportunity took him away from Kansas, and he said he “jumped” at the chance to return three years ago and manage the store in Hutchinson.

He has a daughter who is a freshman at Wichita State University, a son who is a junior at Hutchinson High School, and a daughter due to be born in February 2020. He is not married.

Williams submitted his paper to the FEC on Sept. 15, listing “Democratic” in the party affiliation box. On Sept. 16, he applied to change his status from unaffiliated to Democrat, according to the Reno County Clerk’s office.

“From a personal standpoint, politics has never been a big topic, if you will,” he said, although he followed current events. “Neither side has really come out and grabbed me."

The trade tariff wars that hurt rural farmers and the “broken promises” from Washington spurred him to register as a Democrat, he said. 

Williams intends to keep working during the campaign.