Elections

First duel between Huelskamp, Marshall shows contrast in political approach

Roger Marshall, 1st District candidate for Congress, answers a question Monday night during a debate in Hutchinson with U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp. (June 27, 2016)
Roger Marshall, 1st District candidate for Congress, answers a question Monday night during a debate in Hutchinson with U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp. (June 27, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp and challenger Roger Marshall talked about values, the House Agriculture Committee and support for Donald Trump during a debate in Hutchinson on Monday night.

It was the first debate for the two Republicans in the 1st Congressional District, which covers much of western and northern Kansas.

Both candidates emphasized their conservative and Republican values: opposing abortion, government overreach and the Affordable Care Act; disliking President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee; and supporting presumptive Republican nominee Trump.

But Marshall positioned himself as a “peacemaker,” someone who can reach across the aisle. In contrast, Huelskamp emphasized his unwillingness to waver on his views.

Marshall positioned himself as someone who can reach across the aisle. Huelskamp emphasized his unwillingness to waver on his views.

Marshall, a physician from Great Bend, talked about examples of collaboration from his community leadership positions.

Huelskamp emphasized his disagreements with former House Speaker John Boehner as an example of his fixed ideals.

The two candidates appeared before a packed room at the Stringer Fine Art Center on the Hutchinson Community College campus.

Here is some of what they talked about.

House Agriculture Committee

Marshall promised to secure a spot on the House Agriculture Committee.

Huelskamp was removed from that committee in late 2012 by House GOP leaders. Huelskamp blamed Boehner for Kansas not having a spot on the committee. He then emphasized his position on the House Steering Committee, to which he was elected late last year after Paul Ryan was chosen as House speaker.

Huelskamp said he would be on the ag committee if re-elected and then asked Marshall whether he had talked with Ryan about the issue.

Marshall did not respond directly, but disputed Huelskamp’s confidence.

I think the chances of him getting back on the ag committee are next to none. It’s not a gamble Kansas can take.

Roger Marshall, candidate for U.S. House

“I think the chances of him getting back on the ag committee are next to none,” Marshall said. “It’s not a gamble Kansas can take.”

Donald Trump

Both candidates made it clear they support Trump and vehemently oppose Clinton. But they offered contrasting approaches to a Trump presidency.

Marshall: “I will support the president and work with him to get things done.”

Huelskamp: “One thing to know about Tim Huelskamp is I have conservative principles, and I’m going to stand on those conservative principles. If you don’t have conservative principles, I will work against you.”

One thing to know about Tim Huelskamp is I have conservative principles, and I’m going to stand on those conservative principles. If you don’t have conservative principles, I will work against you.

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp

Term limits

Marshall called Huelskamp a career politician, citing Huelskamp’s tenure in Topeka and Washington, D.C. (He was a state senator from 1997 until he went to Congress in 2011.)

“We need new blood,” Marshall said. “Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results is insanity.”

We need new blood. Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results is insanity.

Roger Marshall, candidate for U.S. House

Huelskamp says he comes home to Kansas each weekend. He positioned himself as a Washington outsider.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have to win this for America,” he said. “People in Washington don’t know, and don’t care, what we want out here in western Kansas.”

The winner in the Aug. 2 primary will face Libertarian Kerry Burt and possibly Alan LaPolice, who seeks to run as an independent, in the general election.

Gabriella Dunn: 316-268-6400, @gabriella_dunn

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