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Huelskamp: My Defeat a Bid to Silence Tea Party

Huelskamp: My Defeat a Bid to Silence Tea Party


Monday, 15 August 2016 08:20 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Fresh off his loss for party renomination, Rep. Tim Hueslkamp didn't mince words in what he described as an attack on tea party conservatives: "My defeat was a warning to conservatives in Congress who speak out."

Huelskamp's bona fides are well known: Rated 92 percent by the Heritage Action Fund and 94.50 percent by the American Conservative Union, Huelskamp is a proud tea party conservative and a House Freedom Caucus member from Kansas. And his defeat to Roger Marshall, an obstetrician from Great Bend, has been played out as both a rejection of the tea party-style conservatism he symbolized and anger in the Sunflower State’s largely rural First District that he had been bounced from the House Agriculture Committee in 2012 for his clashes with then-House Speaker John Boehner.

The blow to the three-term lawmaker comes in the wake of criticism on the right that Speaker Paul Ryan and other House Republican leaders have not stopped the business community from primary wars against incumbents.

At least one House member who requested anonymity told Newsmax that Ryan vowed at a closed-door meeting of the House Freedom Caucus to tell business political action committees to leave incumbents alone.

“Huelskamp loses GOP primary after ideological battle,” blared the headline in Politico on the morning after his defeat.

“And that narrative is just plain untrue,” Huelskamp said. “For one thing, leaving aside the [agriculture] committee business, I’m a fifth generation family farmer. I can’t see anyone voting my out to put someone in who doesn’t have any background in agriculture.”

As for whether his defeat spelled a defeat of the conservative agenda symbolized by the Freedom Caucus and the “tea party” movement, Huelskamp replied: “Don’t you think anyone would be defeated when they end the race with $3 million skid marks on their back?”

He was referring to the estimated $2 million in total independent expenditures deployed to ensure his defeat at Marshall’s hands, plus the startling $1.2 million raised by the challenger himself.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example, “spent about $400,000 on an independent expenditure just to defeat me, and I am about as pro-business as you can get.”

The differences between Huelskamp and the Chamber were over his votes against reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank (which the Freedom Caucus has long denounced as an example of “crony capitalism”) and the FAST Act (the long-term transportation reauthorization bill).

And Huelskamp’s spirited opposition to comprehensive immigration put him at odds with the Chamber.

In contrast to the Chamber, both the National Federation of Independent Business and the Club for Growth weighed in for the embattled incumbent.

Huelskamp also pointed to the ESAFund (Ending Spending Action Fund), the super PAC founded by billionaire TD Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts. One of Ricketts’ sons, Nebraska’s Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, is considered a conservative. But the elder Ricketts is an independent and his super PAC has backed Democrats as well as Republicans.

ESAFund spent roughly $ 1 million on radio, TV, and digital ads against Huelskamp in the primary. Their complaint was that his objections to the budget plan of Republican leaders throws “chaos in the House” and that “he’s made it impossible for Republican leadership to pass bills that would cut spending,” ESAFund spokesman Brian Baker told The Washington Post.

“That was their claim,” Huelskamp told us, “But I have a strong feeling that my position against comprehensive immigration was the major factor [ESAFund] was so against me. Anytime you clash with big business on that issue, you’re bound to be attacked.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.



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Fresh off his loss for party renomination, Rep. Tim Heuslkamp didn't mince words in what he described as an attack on tea party conservatives: "My defeat was a warning to conservatives in Congress who speak out."
huelskamp, tea Party, paul ryan
Monday, 15 August 2016 08:20 AM
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