01 02 03 The Revolted Colonies (TM) : Bellwethers 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33


Kansas' Big First Congressional District

The cracks are showing between GOP nominee Donald Trump and VP pick Mike Pence, his shotgun bride. Trump is racing away from GOP incumbents Senators John McCain and Kelly Ayotte. Under pressure, Pence has not withdrawn his support.  Perhaps he is a counterweight to Trump. On the other hand, maybe he’s saving his own skin within the Party.  After being the last man standing in the Veepstakes Musical Chairs, Pence has already proven that he's willing to take a bullet for the team, especially as that team pulled him out of an Indiana gubernatorial reëlection campaign which felt like the Bataan Death March, thanks to his controversial record as Governor.  

His administration followed Tea Party principles on economic and social policies, which resulted in national embarrassment and an undistinguished record. At the time he withdrew on July 15, 2016, he was anything but a sure thing for the November vote.

Pence got the VP door prize and was grateful for it.  Judging though by his clenched jaw at the announcement three weeks ago, he was a bartered bride.  How quickly it is turning into an open marriage.   

In Tuesday's Congressional primary, fifth-generation farmer and incumbent Tim Huelskamp was defeated by Roger Marshall, a physician, in Kansas' First District.  Huelskamp, a three-term Congressman, had drawn considerable attention in his first term, being appointed and then removed from the House Agriculture Committee. The removal supposedly was payback for voting against the GOP 2012 budget.  His removal was described as "unforgivable," as a representative of Kansas' "Big First," an epicenter of American Agriculture.   

Indifferent to the political headwinds  Huelskamp continued to caucus with the Tea Party after his first fall from Grace. In fact, in 2013 he spearheaded an attempt to unseat House Speaker John Boehner, in retaliation for Boehner removing him from the Agriculture and Budget Committee assignments.  Going down for double, Huelskamp voted against the bipartisan Farm Bill, another act of apostasy, because the Democrats' slice of pork -- the work requirement for food stamp recipients --was not tough enough.   For Huelskamp’s constituents, it was grounds for divorce.

What made Huelskamp’s vote especially damaging was that he no longer served on the House Agriculture Committee. He had been booted from the panel the previous December by then-Speaker John Boehner as punishment forvoting repeatedly against the party leadership during the GOP’s first term inthe majority. In other words: Huelskamp couldn’t even tell his constituentsthat he had battled inside the committee for a stronger bill to betterrepresent their interests, because he no longer served on the committee. TimAlberta, “A Lesson from Tim Huelskamp’s Loss,” National Review, 2016.08.03

Huelskamp was narrowly returned in the 2014 primary. This year he was unable to stave off defeat, a farmer defeated in a farm-district by an obstetrician; albeit, an obstetrician with the backing of the entire agriculture and livestock lobbies. Huelskamp had bucked party leadership on ideological grounds and lost. That had not cost him his seat. When he voted against the Farm Bill, he crossed the line by opposing the Big First’s interests. 

Pragmatist Pence and Ideologue Huelskamp, both Tea Party supporters, faced political choices and chose different paths.  Pence survived politically. Huelskamp is probably finished.    

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