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Inside Washington: Learning from Kansas' vote

Rep. Tim Huelskamp's loss shows how government needs to do something besides just stand on principles.

On Tuesday night, Dr. Roger Marshall from Kansas’ “Big First” district won the primary against three-term incumbent and Tea Party conservative Rep. Tim Huelskamp after a closely followed race. Marshall, endorsed by several national and state agricultural groups, won with 57% of the vote to secure the candidacy.

Marshall’s victory in the primary is an important step forward in reclaiming a House Agriculture Committee seat for Kansas’ first district. The Big First district encompasses more than 60 counties across two time zones.

However, this also shows that the agricultural lobby will not stand with someone who doesn’t listen to his or her constituents and offer them a voice when needed. Huelskamp was kicked off the House Agriculture Committee by then Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio). For the first time in nearly a century, Kansas didn’t have a voice on the House Agriculture Committee. Huelskamp also was removed from the House Budget Committee.

National commodity groups such as the National Sorghum Producers and National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) , as well as the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Livestock Assn., had all come out endorsing Marshall.

Huelskamp, although hailing from a farm himself, voted against the farm bill. He had also proposed eliminating the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“Marshall’s victory in this primary is emblematic of the desire for true agriculture representation in Washington, D.C.,” said NAWG vice president David Schemm, a farmer in Kansas’ first district. “He has demonstrated that he can work with Kansas farmers, listen to our needs and be our effective advocate in Congress. NAWG looks forward to the opportunity to work with Dr. Marshall to secure a seat on the House Ag Committee, because the current fragile farm economy illustrates how important a functional farm bill is to rural America. We are thrilled to have backed a candidate who understands the needs of Kansas and U.S. wheat farmers and shown that he is willing to do even more for them in the upcoming farm bill.”

In a statement, the Kansas Farm Bureau said of Huelskamp, “He has burned bridges with colleagues, farmers, ranchers and many others. Kansas needs practical, conservative leadership, not just rhetoric and embarrassment.”

The theme may continue this election season, with a desire to move away from rhetoric and focus on making Washington work again.
Politico Pro reported that Marshall backers hope the victory sends a message to frequent “no" voters among House Republicans that “obstruction has its limits.” A national Republican strategist was quoted as saying, “Every member should remember this the next time that 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.”

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