Elections

Establishment Republican Unseats Conservative In Kansas

REUTERS/Jim Bourg

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Phillip Stucky Political Reporter

Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp lost his district’s primary to establishment-backed challenger Roger Marshall Tuesday.

Huelskamp won his seat during the Tea Party movement in 2010, and became chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. After a dispute with party leadership, Huelskamp was booted from the House Agriculture Committee in 2012.

The Kansas Republican only earned 43 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, while Marshall won 57 percent of the vote.

Huelskamp complained during a post-vote press conference about the “outside money” injected into the race by special interest groups, he claimed over $3 million was spent supporting Marshall from outside donors.

Huelskamp, however, didn’t complain when that outside money was also going to his campaign. Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity (AFP) and the conservative Club For Growth devoted considerable resources in the race, according to Politico, on ad spending to individual issue-based door knocking.

Following Huelskamp’s removal from the Agriculture Committee, a Republican challenger emerged in 2014, who was backed by the Kansas Livestock Association, and the Farm Bureau. Huelskamp won that election with 55 percent of the vote.

AFP spokesman Levi Russell told Politico Huelskamp was targeted for doing “everything he said he would do.” Huelskamp voted against the Farm Bill.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed Marshall, running ads against Huelskamp as “ineffective.”

“A decisive and overwhelming win for conservatives who want to get big things done,” Political Director for the Chamber of Commerce Rob Engstrom told Politico. “Now is the time. We congratulate our friend Dr. Roger Marshall.”

“Every member should remember this the next time they see a Club for Growth or Heritage Action vote alert, never put their interests before your district or the country, or there will be a price to pay,” Marshall told reporters following the primary results.

Huelskamp hosted a watch party Tuesday night, inviting local members of the press. When it appeared he would lose, the press was ordered to leave the premises, and threatened to call the cops if everyone did not leave.

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