Surely former Speaker John Boehner is smiling this morning after Tuesday’s Republican primary in Kansas’s very red First District ended in the defeat of Freedom Caucus member Tim Huelskamp who was a driving force against Boehner. Politico headlined, “GOP Civil War Comes to Kansas.”
Huelskamp lost even with help from Senator Ted Cruz and conservative radio hosts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and even with $800,000 dumped into the race by Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth plus another $200,000 from fellow Freedom Caucus members.
His Republican opponent, 55-year-old Roger Marshall, an obstetrician and former Army reservist, was backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts’ “Ending Spending” group.
Ironically, Huelskamp complained that his opponent was trying to buy the election. Pot, meet kettle.
From the New York Times:
Representative Tim Huelskamp, a member of the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus, lost to a political newcomer on Tuesday in the Republican primary for his Kansas district.
Mr. Huelskamp, who was elected to Congress in 2010 and quickly earned a reputation for frustrating Republican leaders, was defeated by Roger Marshall, an obstetrician from Great Bend, in the primary for the First Congressional District, which covers western Kansas and much of the state’s center.
Mr. Marshall won with the support of business groups and the agriculture lobby, which had turned its back on Mr. Huelskamp after Speaker John A. Boehner had him removed from the Agriculture Committee in 2012, a crucial position for a legislator from a farm state. Mr. Huelskamp was a frequent critic of Mr. Boehner, who resigned last year amid strife with the Republican Party’s right wing.
“Getting kicked off the Agriculture Committee is a crime that can’t be forgiven,” Brian Scheideman, a 52-year-old driver’s education instructor, said after voting for Mr. Marshall in Wamego, The Associated Press reported. “I don’t mind the independent voice, but you’ve got to figure out how to work with people.”
Huelskamp, a Ted Cruz ally and chairman of the House Tea Party Caucus, never learned to play nice with his fellow Republicans. Politico noted:
The showdown has flipped the script on GOP warring in recent election cycles. Often it’s been an establishment-friendly incumbent scrambling to fend off a primary election challenger from the right. This time, it’s one of the most uncompromising conservatives in the House — a man who instigated John Boehner’s ouster as speaker and has bucked GOP leaders time and again on major votes — ironically being attacked as a D.C. insider and fighting for his political life.
The Republican Security Council added:
Boehner kicked him off the Agriculture Committee after Huelskamp voted with Democrats to kill the Ryan Plan to cut the debt by $6.2 trillion over a decade. Prior to Huelskamp, Kansas had been represented on the panel for a century. Huelskamp wanted larger budget cuts, and would not accept the Ryan Plan as a starting point. It came within one vote of being defeated in committee.
Politico notes, “Huelskamp’s critics back in Kansas say his ‘rigid’ conservative ideology and unwillingness to work with his own party have deemed him ineffective.”
They quoted a leadership aide as saying, “Most lawmakers work to get to ‘yes’ to promote a cause — Tim Huelskamp works to get to ‘no’ to promote himself.”
The president of the Kansas Farm Bureau campaigned against the lawmaker and said, “Tim put himself in a position where he was irrelevant. He can’t seem to work with others whether in his party or out.”
The Associated Press called the race for Marshall with 72 percent of precincts reporting: Marshall, 57 percent; Huelskamp, 43 percent.