Citing U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s removal from the House Agriculture Committee several years ago, the Kansas Livestock Association announced Tuesday it is endorsing Huelskamp’s challenger, Roger Marshall, in the August 2016 Republican primary.
“Kansas agriculture was without representation on the last Farm Bill after nearly a century of inclusion on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. It cannot risk another Farm Bill without having a voice,” said KLA president Matt Perrier in a news release.
Huelskamp, a tea party favorite and member of the House Freedom Caucus, was removed from the committee in December 2012 after disagreements with Republican leaders, namely former House Speaker John Boehner.
The KLA declined to endorse a 1st District candidate in the 2014 race between Huelskamp and student retention specialist Alan LaPolice, of Clyde.
“Our committee didn’t find anyone in the 1st District race that was deserving of our seal of approval,” Aaron Popelka, KLA’s vice president of legal and governmental affairs, told the Associated Press last year.
LaPolice is again challenging Huelskamp, as is Marshall, an obstetrician from Great Bend. In a statement, Marshall accused Huelskamp of ignoring the cattle industry.
“Kansas cattlemen, ranchers, small businesses, and Republicans alike have watched with head-in-hand the last six years as our current representative stayed busy chasing newspaper headlines instead of paying attention to the needs of the Kansas cattle and Ag industry,” Marshall said.
Huelskamp’s campaign defended the congressman’s record on agriculture issues Tuesday.
“Unlike the wealthy CEO Marshall, Congressman Huelskamp is a fifth-generation farmer and a conservative,” said campaign spokesman Mark Kelly. “While Marshall has been cashing in on ObamaCare and promoting amnesty, Tim has consistently defended his fellow Kansas farmers against the Obama agenda, whether it is his listing of the lesser prairie chicken or his radical Waters of the U.S. rule.”
LaPolice had a more conciliatory tone Tuesday, saying the three-way Republican race “gets more exciting by the minute.”
“I appreciate that the KLA also sees a need for change in representation,” he said. “Having spent my entire life working with cattle and farming, I too want to see better advocacy for our district, not just for agriculture, but for every industry and every individual.”
The endorsement of agricultural groups is significant in the largely rural 1st District of western and central Kansas. The district is among the most conservative in the nation, traditionally granting the winner of the Republican primary an easy road to victory in November’s general election.
“Having the support and confidence of Kansas cattlemen and ranchers is essential to winning this election,” Marshall said.
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