Tim Huelskamp, a Republican, represents Kansas’s 1st District in the House.
After a hard-fought race, I was disappointed on Tuesday to lose the primary to represent Kansas’s “Big First’”congressional district. Representing the citizens of Kansas has been a great honor. I hope that they — and other folks across the United States — will now heed my warning.
Americans are frustrated with what they see on Capitol Hill: career politicians wholly owned by special-interest groups. But why are so few elected officials willing to cast bold votes to reduce government spending, address the massive national debt, secure our border, stop the flow of unvetted refugees into the United States and so on? They’re afraid of being primaried by big-money Washington elites.
When I was elected to Congress in the conservative tea party wave of 2010, I committed both to my family and Kansans that I would not become a creature of Washington, that I would be willing to cast tough votes and that I would stand up to my own party when necessary. I have fought tooth and nail for accountable, open and limited government. For this, I was punished by my party’s leadership when I refused to support massive spending and borrowing that more reflected President Obama’s priorities than conservatives’. In Washington, it turns out that keeping your promises makes you a lot of enemies — especially in Republican circles.
In my case, the billionaires who ran ads that helped Hillary Clinton win Iowa worked against me — putting nearly a million dollars toward attacking me and supporting my opponent. A super PAC called the Ending Spending Action Fund (ESA Fund) — which masquerades as a small government organization and is funded by wealthy GOP establishment donors — has been working against me for months, despite my strong record on fiscal policy. In addition, another super PAC deceptively named Strong Leadership for America spent nearly $300,000 against me.
My opponents relied on false and deceptive information in their attacks. From Day One, they tried to claim I couldn’t adequately represent Kansas’s farming interests since I was kicked off the House Agriculture Committee by then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), despite the fact that I am a fifth-generation farmer. But very little of the outside spending against me came from agricultural groups. My opponents said I was a Washington insider, that I was a key ally of Obama, that I hated the military and even that I was associated with Planned Parenthood — all shameful lies.
Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined the assault at the end. That should be no surprise: Its top policy priorities include passing amnesty for millions illegally in this country, keeping their crony Export-Import-Bank alive and maintaining a regulation-obsessed IRS that benefits the largest corporations at the expense of America’s small businesses — all of which I oppose, but for which my opponent will be a reliable yes vote.
Too many representatives come to Washington and go along to get along. These individuals are automatic yes votes for party leadership and special interests regardless of how bad the policy may be for not just their district — but also the nation. The result is an unsecured border, unrestrained government spending and $19.5 trillion in debt.
It is my hope that the people of the “Big First” of Kansas, and all Americans, hold their elected representatives accountable and remember that Congress belongs to them — not the special-interests groups that bought this primary. It is also my hope that my loss won’t deter other principled conservatives from voting their conscience in office and staying accountable to the people, not the Washington elites destroying our country.
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