By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
A Manhattan political figure has mounted a Democratic challenge to Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler.
Jim Sherow, a history professor at Kansas State University and Air Force veteran, visited Hays last week. The candidate connected with Hays Area Chamber of Commerce and Hays Optimist Club.
The former city commissioner and mayor said his resume suits his pursuit of national office. Sherow touted his experiences with downtown redevelopment, economic growth, tourism, Kansas Department of Transportation projects and other government issues.
The professor attacked Huelskamp as a partisan, inefficient politician.
"If you have a representative who seems to be a leader of divisiveness, even within his own party, much less across the aisle, how do you expect to get anything done?" Sherow said.
The candidate said party affiliations have not prevented him from working with others to resolve problems.
"As a commissioner, I learned what it is to work with other people," he said. "We approached issues on the basis of what needs to be done, what are the goals. We didn't talk about party politics."
If elected, Sherow said he wants to serve on the House of Representatives' Committee on Agriculture. Huelskamp was removed from the group in 2012. The Democrat also wants to improve access to health care within Veterans Affairs.
The economy is a top concern of Sherow.
"It does no good to have the social issues if you can't put food on the table and there's no one in your community because the economy's bankrupt," he said.
Admitting the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was "disastrous," he said he supports parts of it.
Allowing children to stay on parents' health insurance until they are 26 and insurers covering pre-existing conditions are two benefits, Sherow said.
Chapman Rackaway, political science professor at Fort Hays State University, said Sherow faces a daunting electoral challenge.
"There's no better seat in the state of Kansas for a Republican than the First congressional district," Rackaway said. "It has the biggest Republican registration advantage of all four of the congressional districts."
Sherow's campaign team also might have a disadvantage when it comes to fundraising and recognition, Rackaway said.
The incumbent reflects his constituents' political leanings, Sherow believes.
"He's a conservative at a time when the preferences of the district have become quite conservative," Sherow said.
"He's ridden that Tea Party wave."
More information on the campaign can be found at www.supportsherow.com.