Politics & Government

Huelskamp, Marshall spar in debate for Kansas’ 1st District

The most-contested Congressional primary race in Kansas saw another skirmish Tuesday night.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp squared off against his primary challenger Roger Marshall in a Tuesday night debate on KWCH. Republican voters in the 1st Congressional District, which includes swaths of western and northern Kansas, will choose between the two in the Aug. 2 primary.

Marshall, a physician from Great Bend, played up his professional background and his ability to play the role of “peace-maker” to work with others.

“As a matter of fact, I delivered two babies this morning,” Marshall said. “Leaders don’t stand up and tear down other people and blame other people for their problems.”

Huelskamp, R-Fowler, championed his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and environmental regulation.

“If you want a proven conservative in Washington, you have one already,” Huelskamp said. “For the last five years, I have fought against the president.”

If you want a proven conservative in Washington, you have one already.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler/Hutchinson

Candidates were asked about the recent backdrop of unrest, featuring protests against police violence and attacks on law enforcement, including the fatal shooting of a Kansas City, Kan., captain earlier in the day.

“I’m not a President Obama basher, but if there’s one thing I’m disappointed in, it’s how he’s turned his back on our men in uniform,” Marshall said. “What I’ll do is encourage the police officers, help fund them adequately and empower them to do their job.”

Huelskamp said the country needed to unify, blaming politicians playing up racial and socioeconomic divisions and “attacking violence with rhetoric.”

“The question here is not about funding. It’s a cultural problem,” Huelskamp said.

The debate circled back to Huelskamp’s removal from the House Agriculture Committee, an important issue for the agriculturally-focused First District.

Huelskamp blamed his removal on former Speaker of the House John Boehner and said he was confident he would be reinstated under the new House Speaker, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

I think Tim got kicked off the Ag Committee because he put his own political aspirations ahead of the hard-working Kansas farmers we have.

Dr. Roger Marshall

“I am now on the Steering Committee that actually makes the decisions. I will be back on the Ag Committee,” Huelskamp said. “I’ve been working with my colleagues. I voted for the new Speaker.”

“I think Tim got kicked off the Ag Committee because he put his own political aspirations ahead of the hard-working Kansas farmers we have,” Marshall responded.

“I will develop relationships and roles with leadership,” Marshall added. “There is no way he’s getting back on. He has done everything physically possible to get back on and it hasn’t happened. … The silence is deafening; the silence from D.C.”

Marshall said he’d fight against “over-regulation” and for “opening up more trade opportunities for the Kansas farmer.”

Huelskamp said he’s already worked with foreign representatives on trade agreements for Kansas agricultural exports.

“I’ve developed these relationships with foreign leaders in foreign countries,” Huelskamp said. “If you bring in someone new that has no experience in agriculture and no experience in working with these foreign leaders, we lose an opportunity to sell more Kansas stuff.”

If you bring in someone new that has no experience in agriculture and no experience in working with these foreign leaders, we lose an opportunity to sell more Kansas stuff.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler/Hutchinson

“Agriculture is the heart and the future of rural Kansas,” Huelskamp said. “And we need to continue to promote and protect that.”

After the debate, Huelskamp talked about his hopes for a replacement to the Affordable Care Act under a Donald Trump administration.

“We need more competition. We need to put consumers in charge of the health care, not big insurance companies,” he said. “We need to get federal bureaucrats out of the way and let our folks buy across state lines. And we need to definitely do tort reform to take on the trial lawyers.”

We need to tell them to take their gloves off. We need to tell them to go after them. Whatever it takes, they need to destroy radical Islam...This is going to be a war in the dark and behind the scenes. So what we can really do is empower the military.

Dr. Roger Marshall

Marshall told The Eagle he thinks the military shouldn’t be micromanaged as it takes on terrorist groups like the Islamic State.

“We need to tell them to take their gloves off. We need to tell them to go after them. Whatever it takes, they need to destroy radical Islam,” Marshall said. “This is going to be a war in the dark and behind the scenes. So what we can really do is empower the military.”

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

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