Todd Tiahrt and Mike Pompeo’s campaigns traded barbs Thursday, as an increasingly contentious Republican primary race for Congress moved toward the July 4 weekend.
The issues were whether U.S. Rep. Pompeo, R-Wichita, used footage of a wheat field from outside the United States in one of his television ads and whether Tiahrt, who preceded Pompeo as congressman, ever voted for John Boehner for House speaker.
On June 26, Brian Sieker, owner of Sieker Sales and Sieker farms, tweeted at Pompeo that his campaign commercial showed footage of a wheat field in Europe rather than one in Kansas.
Sieker explained in a phone call that the combines being used to harvest wheat in the commercial are not available for sale in North America.
Sieker, who lives in Chase, said his motivations are not political and that he believes Pompeo has done a good job in Congress. He was just bothered that the commercial made the mistake.
“I just noticed it and being a Kansas wheat farmer it was just odd that they didn’t have a Kansas wheat harvest, which is pretty dear to most Kansans,” Sieker said. “I knew that he would see that on Twitter and just change his commercial. That’s all it was. That’s the power of social media.”
The commercial has since been updated with footage shot in Kansas. Jim Richardson, Pompeo’s campaign manager, explained that the ad was produced by a Wichita-based creative team that used stock footage.
“Our Wichita-based creative team made a choice on a two-second B-roll clip. The reality is that Mike Pompeo is supported by Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Livestock Association. He has fought very hard for our farmers and ranchers,” Richardson said in a statement.
He said the field in the original commercial looked like Kansas, but the campaign made the change to be sure.
Tiahrt said that he had not communicated with Sieker, but that he did retweet the message. He said he also accidentally linked to it on his Facebook page.
“I heard his commercial has a picture from some wheat field in France,” Tiahrt said in a phone call.
“Pompeo is clearly out of touch,” Tiahrt said. “It shows up when he walks through a wheat field in a crisp white shirt in his commercials, and it shows up when he uses a foreign picture with equipment you can’t buy in America.”
Tiahrt emphasized that he grew up on a farm. Richardson accused Tiahrt of trying to score points on a non-issue.
“Todd Tiahrt’s latest absurd attack is just another negative campaign tactic because he has no issues to run on,” Richardson said. “The Tiahrt campaign continues to mislead Kansans. Just this week Mr. Tiahrt said he never supported John Boehner for Speaker, but this is simply untrue.”
Tiahrt said in a radio interview this week on the “Joseph Ashby Show” that he never supported Boehner for speaker. But Pompeo’s campaign pointed to the vote recorded on Jan. 6, 2009, in which Tiahrt cast his vote for Boehner over Nancy Pelosi, who won election as speaker that year.
“I stand corrected,” Tiahrt said in a phone call. He said he did not support Boehner in the Republican caucus but agreed that he had cast a vote in the chamber as a whole. “It was very savvy of them to know I would not have voted for Pelosi.”
Republican voters will have the choice between Pompeo and Tiahrt on Aug. 5.