Politics

Establishment-backed Republican Unseats House Freedom Caucus Member

Tim Huelskamp is the fourth House incumbent to lose this year

Roger Marshall, who was backed by the Chamber of Commerce, unseated three-term Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp in the Republican primary on Tuesday. (JM Rieger/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three-term Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp lost his primary to OB-GYN Roger Marshall in the sprawling 1st District of Kansas Tuesday night.   

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Marshall unseated Huelskamp 56 to 44 percent. 

Huelskamp rode the tea party wave to Congress in 2010 and as member of the House Freedom Caucus, he quickly earned a reputation as a troublemaker, angering Washington Republicans.

His vote against the GOP budget got him kicked off the Budget and Agriculture committees in 2012. And his vote against the farm bill angered just as many Republicans at home.

He faced a competitive primary in 2014, but ended up winning by 10 points. 

[ Could Huelskamp Become Fourth Incumbent to Lose? ]

This year, however, agricultural groups in Kansas who had remained neutral in the primary two years ago backed Huelskamp's challenger. The Kansas Farm Bureau, the Livestock Association and the National Sorghum Producer's Association all backed Marshall.

Ending Spending Action Fund targeted Huelskamp with TV ads saying he was a "20-year politician," not a farmer. In a statement sent out even before the Associated Press had called the race Tuesday night, the group, which supports fiscally conservative candidates, took credit for Huelskamp's defeat. 

"People regularly overuse the word 'historic' — but this actually is. Incumbents very rarely lose, which tells us that voters are demanding that Republicans in Congress work together to advance a fiscally conservative agenda to actually end out-of-control spending — not just grandstand," said Brian Baker, the fund's president. 

The pro-business Chamber of Commerce also backed Marshall. 

"Governing was on the ballot in KS-1 and voters spoke clearly," the chamber's national political director Rob Engstrom said in a statement Tuesday night. 

The anti-tax Club for Growth Action, Americans for Prosperity, the National Rifle Association and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz supported Huelskamp. 

Huelskamp is now the fourth incumbent to lose in a primary this year. Pennsylvania Democrat Chaka Fattah lost in April after being indicted on corruption charges. North Carolina’s Renee Ellmers became the first GOP incumbent to lose in June, followed by  Virginia’s J. Randy Forbes, who tried to run in a neighboring district after his district was redrawn.  

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