Former WSGA president Love campaigning for Kansas Houses of Representatives

Regina Budden

As the political season shifts into panic mode, a face familiar to many Washburn students will join the crowd of hardened Kansas government officials up for re-election.

Former WSGA president Garrett Love announced his run for his home district’s House of Representatives seat in May this year, challenging the incumbent, Melvin Neufeld, who has been in office for 24 years.

Love got the idea this spring before he graduated, after interning at the capitol for a political science class.

“Over the semester people began to talk to me about potentially running, and I started talking to some people from across the district,” said Love. “I kind of started getting the feeling that we had far too many politicians and not enough leaders.”

He said his experiences at Washburn University helped make him a good leader.

“I think I’ve had a lot of different unique opportunities that will serve me well later in life no matter what path I may take,” said Love, who mentioned consensus building and compromise as two important lessons he learned.

Compromise was very important in the past year as WSGA president, Love said, in achieving campaign goals such as Success Week. The original plan was to ensure that the week before finals was primarily for studying and preparation by making it mandatory that no major due dates could fall anywhere in that week.

“The goal was to have a five day dead week, instead we compromised with some faculty to make it three days,” said Love.

As a lifelong resident of Montezuma, Kan., in Gray County, Love is familiar with the area of District 115 where he’s running, but he’ll need a lot more to be able to push out Neufeld, who has held the office since before Love was even born.

“I think that it’s tough going against someone who’s been somewhere for so long just because they have a lot of name recognition in that area,” said Love. “Incumbents win 97 or 98 percent of the time, so it’s definitely an uphill battle.”

Love believes that the high rate of incumbent re-election can actually be detrimental to the political system.

“I think when you serve in the exact same position for a long period of time, it’s easy to become complacent and it’s easier to become a part of a system that in the beginning you may have set out to change,” he said.

Although Love is the only opponent that Neufeld has in this election, since both desire to run on the Republican ticket, it will be an early face-off, having the winner selected in the primaries Aug. 3.

Love and Neufeld are both Kansas farm-grown boys, running on a platform of conservative Christian values, but Love said there are significant enough differences to set them apart on the voting ticket.

“Once you’re there for a long time, sometimes you’re just making decisions without considering what’s best for the state,” said Love. “That’s the perspective that I bring in, the new perspective, the independent perspective.”

Love cited the debt that Kansas amassed in Neufeld’s years in office and serving as the Kansas Speaker of the House, and said that the lack of perspective and not the recession was the biggest contributor to the millions of dollars that have stacked up in the past few years.

“Kansas would have had very few problems at all if we would have just been smarter in those years where maybe the money was there or everything was going well,” said Love. “We have to be able to make smart fiscal decisions.”

As the newbie to the ring, Love is going to be hard-pressed to have a successful campaign. Later in the campaign, he plans to go door-to-door and make a lot of phone calls, but right now his biggest goal is to get his name out. Plans for doing this involve attending community events such as parades, pancake feeds and early morning coffee chats.

“While I’ve lived in Montezuma my whole life, I’ve obviously been at Washburn a lot of the time, in Topeka the last four years, so reacquainting myself with people of the district is a big part of it,” said Love.

In spite of the difficulties that await him on the campaign trail, Love has a positive attitude about predicting the outcome of the primary elections. In fact, although he has hinted before about law school or business ownership, Love professes to not have a backup plan for what to do with his time if he doesn’t win District 115.

“I hope I don’t have to worry about that,” he said.

For more information about Love’s campaign, go to