Roberts, Huelskamp, Pompeo win Kansas primaries
By Larry Dreiling
Call it a push between establishment and tea party Republicans in two key Kansas primary races Aug. 5.
Three-term U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts dispatched tea party favorite Milton Wolf, edging out the radiologist and distant cousin of President Barack Obama in a bitter, closely- fought primary. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Roberts had 48 percent to Wolf’s 41 percent while two other candidates combined for 11 percent of the vote.
In his victory speech, Roberts warned against the divisive GOP primaries, calling it “intra-party fratricide” and urging Republicans not to waste “scarce resources and energy tearing ourselves apart.”
Roberts overcame questions about his Washington-area home, his Kansas rental for official residency and his quip that he goes home when he gets an opponent.
“I am so proud of an outstanding and hardworking campaign team. We knew that when we started on this job nearly a year ago it would not be easy,” Roberts said at his Overland Park victory speech. “My posse did not flinch. Not even those times when their candidate—me—stepped on his message.
“We wrapped up a grassroots effort today that in just over three weeks reached more than 200,000 Kansas GOP households through live telephone calls and door knocks, most multiple times. If there was a key to our victory, that was it.”
Meanwhile, in the 1st District Republican primary, U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a tea party favorite and Fowler farmer known for his criticism of the GOP leadership in Washington, defeated Clyde farmer and educator Alan LaPolice 55 to 45 percent after a campaign that tried to capitalize on discontent with the congressman’s stances on agricultural issues and recent spats with party leaders.
The winner will face former Manhattan Mayor Jim Sherow, who beat Bryan Whitney, a political science student at Wichita State University, to capture the Democratic nomination.
Huelskamp was caught in an unexpectedly tough race with a political novice as he seeks a third two-year term. Huelskamp was battling LaPolice in a race that has shaped up to be a referendum on whether Huelskamp has put his own ideology above his constituents’ interests.
Huelskamp has angered Kansas farmers by repeatedly voting against the farm bill. The Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Livestock Association each declined to endorse a candidate in the race.
Huelskamp also is co-sponsoring legislation that would phase out a renewable fuel program that bolsters the U.S. market for ethanol. His district includes 11 biofuel plants and vast fields of corn and sorghum.
In the 4th District Republican primary, U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo handily defeated his longtime predecessor, popular former Congressman Todd Tiahrt. Tiahrt held the seat for 16 years before giving it up in 2010 for an unsuccessful GOP primary run against U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran.
Both Huelskamp and Pompeo were first elected in 2010, when the tea party movement helped Republicans claim control of the House. But some of their former supporters now argue the incumbents haven’t done enough to end dysfunction in Congress.
Tiahrt has said he was running because he can no longer sit by and “see all the hard work I did deteriorate.”
With the Wichita economy ailing from its depressed aviation industry, Tiahrt’s campaign has focused on whether Pompeo has done enough to help his district. Tiahrt points to federal money he brought home while in Congress to public works projects and aviation companies, while Pompeo criticizes federal largesse and suggests local businesses are better served by lower taxes.
Pompeo has also co-sponsored legislation that would establish a federal labeling standard for foods with genetically modified ingredients, giving sole authority to the Food and Drug Administration to require mandatory labeling on such foods if they are ever found to be unsafe or materially different from foods produced without GM ingredients.
The 4th District Republican primary fight played out in the home district of Charles and David Koch, who have built a network of conservative organizations nationwide. The Koch money is backing Pompeo. The winner will face Democrat Perry Schuckman.
Missouri “Right to Farm”
In Missouri, a proposed constitutional amendment creating a right to farm in Missouri prevailed in a close election.
Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1 had 498,751 votes for it and 496,223 against it with all precincts reporting—a margin of less than three-tenths of a percentage point.
The amendment proposed to make farming an official constitutional right, similar to existing protections for the freedoms of speech and religion.
The Missouri proposal prompted an intense campaign that generally split urban and rural areas. Supporters said it could help ward off future initiatives limiting genetically modified crops or restricting the way animals are raised.
Opponents contend the measure could be cited by corporate farms to try to escape regulations.
North Dakota is the only other state with farming as a constitutional right.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Larry Dreiling can be reached by phone at 785-628-1117 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.