Huelskamp Is Fourth House Incumbent Defeated

Agriculture was a central theme in the Freedom Caucus member’s primary loss.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp speaks during a campaign town hall meeting at the headquarters of Patriot Outfitters in St. Marys, Kan. on July 25.
AP Photo/John Hanna
Kimberly Railey
Add to Briefcase
Kimberly Railey
Aug. 2, 2016, 9:51 p.m.

The Re­pub­lic­an es­tab­lish­ment scored a big vic­tory Tues­day night.

Rep. Tim Huel­skamp, one of the most con­ser­vat­ive law­makers in Con­gress, hand­ily lost his primary to a more mod­er­ate chal­lenger, be­com­ing the fourth House in­cum­bent de­feated this cycle.

In a race that be­came a proxy fight for the GOP’s two war­ring wings, phys­i­cian Ro­ger Mar­shall tri­umphed over Huel­skamp, lead­ing 57 to 43 per­cent when the As­so­ci­ated Press called the race shortly after 11:20 p.m. and with 72 per­cent of pre­cincts re­port­ing.

Mar­shall’s vic­tory in the solidly Re­pub­lic­an 1st Dis­trict likely as­sures him a spot in Con­gress next year.

He faces in­de­pend­ent Alan LaPo­lice, who won 45 per­cent of the vote against Huel­skamp in the 2014 GOP primary. LaPo­lice, who ini­tially planned to run as a Re­pub­lic­an again this year, dropped out of the GOP field in May, al­low­ing anti-Huel­skamp voters to con­sol­id­ate around one op­tion. No Demo­crat filed to run, but there is a Liber­tari­an in the race.

The primary at­trac­ted nearly $2.8 mil­lion in out­side spend­ing and was a ma­jor win for es­tab­lish­ment-aligned Re­pub­lic­ans, who loathe Huel­skamp and the House Free­dom Caucus mem­ber’s con­front­a­tion­al style.

Su­per PACs af­fil­i­ated with the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce and End­ing Spend­ing shelled out nearly $1.5 mil­lion com­bined to boost Mar­shall, a polit­ic­al new­comer. Mean­while, Huel­skamp won out­side help from the Club for Growth, whose su­per PAC spent more than $400,0000 on his be­half, a siz­able sum in the dis­trict’s in­ex­pens­ive me­dia mar­ket.

“Gov­ern­ing was on the bal­lot in KS-1 and voters spoke clearly,” Rob Eng­strom, the Cham­ber’s na­tion­al polit­ic­al dir­ect­or, said in a state­ment Tues­day night.

Mar­shall made Huel­skamp’s com­bat­ive­ness a cent­ral part of his pitch, cast­ing him­self as a more solu­tions-ori­ented con­ser­vat­ive. As he ran in the heav­ily agrari­an dis­trict, Mar­shall slammed the in­cum­bent for his re­mov­al from the House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee in 2012 and his vote against the farm bill in 2014. Not­ably, Mar­shall picked up the en­dorse­ment of the Kan­sas Farm Bur­eau, a prom­in­ent ag­ri­cul­tur­al group.

Huel­skamp had said he was con­fid­ent of re­turn­ing to the Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee now that he sits on the power­ful Steer­ing Com­mit­tee that de­term­ines com­mit­tee as­sign­ments.

“I’m not go­ing to back down from pro­tect­ing Kan­sas farm­ers,” Huel­skamp told Na­tion­al Journ­al in Janu­ary. “I am not go­ing to give up my vot­ing card. I’m wor­ried about the [En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency], rather than the en­dorse­ment of groups back home.”

Huel­skamp’s de­feat fol­lows the losses earli­er this year of two Re­pub­lic­ans, Rep. Randy For­bes of Vir­gin­ia and Rep. Ren­ee Ellmers of North Car­o­lina, who both ran in rad­ic­ally re­drawn dis­tricts un­der their state’s new con­gres­sion­al maps. In April, Pennsylvania Demo­crat­ic Rep. Chaka Fat­tah lost his primary, then resigned from the House in June fol­low­ing a fed­er­al rack­et­eer­ing con­vic­tion.

Huel­skamp did not take the chal­lenge lightly, though Mar­shall slightly out­spent Huel­skamp through the pre-primary re­port­ing peri­od, $849,000 to the in­cum­bent’s $817,000, and out­raised him by $168,000.

The primary took on an in­creas­ingly nasty turn in its fi­nal weeks.

One Huel­skamp ad played a re­cord­ing of a 911 call in 2008 from one of Mar­shall’s neigh­bors, who ac­cused Mar­shall of al­most run­ning him over with his pickup truck. Ac­cord­ing to court re­cords, Mar­shall pleaded no con­test to the mis­de­mean­or crim­in­al case.

Mar­shall re­spon­ded with an ad high­light­ing news­pa­per head­lines crit­ic­al of Huel­skamp. However, they were ex­cerp­ted from news­pa­per ed­it­or­i­als, rather than cov­er­age of the re­cent Huel­skamp spot.

As the primary barreled to­ward the home stretch, polling poin­ted to a close race. A sur­vey from the Dock­ing In­sti­tute of Pub­lic Af­fairs from Ju­ly 11-21 showed Huel­skamp and Mar­shall in a dead heat, with 15 per­cent of voters un­de­cided.

Huel­skamp’s polit­ic­al ca­reer began in 1996, when he won a spot in the state Sen­ate and be­came the young­est mem­ber in the cham­ber in 20 years. He quickly be­came one of the GOP’s most vo­cal rabble-rousers after his 2010 elec­tion. Two years later, that cri­ti­cism led Speak­er John Boehner to yank him from the Ag­ri­cul­ture and Budget com­mit­tees, a de­cision Huel­skamp called “petty and vin­dict­ive.”

Huel­skamp’s 1st Dis­trict was rep­res­en­ted by both of the state’s cur­rent sen­at­ors, Jerry Mor­an and Pat Roberts. Former Sen. Bob Dole also held the seat in the 1960s.

What We're Following See More »
Rosenstein Holds Presser On Russian Indictments
3 days ago
U.S. Indicts 13 Russian Nationals For Election Interference
3 days ago

The indictment, filed in the District of Columbia, alleges that the interference began "in or around 2014," when the defendants began tracking and studying U.S. social media sites. They "created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts" and "purchased computer servers located inside the United States" to mask their identities, some of which were stolen. The interference was coordinated by election interference "specialists," and focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration, and other divisive issues. "By early to mid-2016" the groups began supporting the campaign of "then-candidate Donald Trump," including by communicating with "unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign..."

Gates Said to Be Finalizing a Plea Deal
3 days ago

"Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, indicating he's poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. Gates has already spoken to Mueller's team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He's had what criminal lawyers call a 'Queen for a Day' interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors' team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed."

Another Defeat for Immigration Legislation in the Senate
3 days ago

"The Senate on Thursday rejected immigration legislation crafted by centrists in both parties after President Trump threatened to veto the bill if it made it to his desk. In a 54-45 vote, the Senate failed to advance the legislation from eight Republican, seven Democratic and one Independent senators. It needed 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle. "

House Intel Panel Could Charge Bannon with Contempt
3 days ago

"The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a Thursday meeting to hear testimony from Steve Bannon—but it's an open question whether President Donald Trump's former chief strategist will even show up. The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill late Wednesday laying out its explanation for why Trump's transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a move intended to shield Bannon from answering questions about that time period." Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee dispute the White House's theory, and have floated charging Bannon with contempt should he refuse to appear.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.