How long can the Republican candidates in both the 1st and 4th Congressional District races bash the status quo without having a harsh word for the retiring incumbents? Doing so got trickier last week in McPherson, where Republicans seeking to succeed Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, lashed out at the congressional earmarking process even as they stood amid its benefits — the McPherson Opera House, the 122-year-old gem whose restoration was made possible in part by a $142,000 earmark secured last year by Moran. Nevertheless, Monte Shadwick, a former Moran aide, called earmarking "a petri dish for corruption." Tracey Mann, a former Moran intern, described earmarks as "a gateway drug" to the addiction of federal spending. Yet Shadwick said of Moran: "Those are big shoes to fill." And Mann has been seen sporting a Moran for Senate button.