Who would you guess is the most conservative member of the Kansas delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives?
Most people in northwest Kansas automatically would believe it to be our own Big First representative, Tim Huelskamp. The Fowler farmer would deserve your reply, given his very public preoccupation with federal spending and social issues.
Courtesy of the franking privileges accorded members of Congress, most everybody in the area recently should have received a four-page, full-color mailer from the Republican politician.
The piece highlights what Huelskamp believes are the most important issues to Kansans. He touts his attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman under the headline "Preserving Kansas Values."
He then follows up with a query about topics that are most important to you and your family. Options to check include: "Preventing tax increases, Repeal President Obama's health care law, Stopping burdensome regulations, Protecting gun rights, Pushing for a balanced budget amendment, Defending traditional marriage and the right to life, All of the above, Other."
Sounds like a list that could have been produced at the Heritage Foundation or one of the many Koch Brothers-directed organizations. It's the conservative wish list (with the notable exception of "Protecting our border").
Willing to double-down on your bet that Huelskamp is Kansas' most conservative House member?
You'd be foolish if you did. As it turns out, Huelskamp is the least conservative. According to a ranking in the National Journal, a non-partisan news organization, the tea party favorite doesn't hold a candle to the other three House members -- or the two senators as well.
The Journal used 116 key votes from each chamber in 2012 that revealed ideological distinctions between members. House members fell in this order: Mike Pompeo tied for 10th most conservative member with a composite score of 94.3; Lynn Jenkins was 22nd with a 91.2; Kevin Yoder tied for 59th with an 83.8; and, bringing up the rear, Tim Huelskamp was the 180th most conservative with a score of 59.8. Both senators had higher scores. Pat Roberts was 26th most conservative member of the Senate with a 73.8 and Jerry Moran was 29th with a 72.3.
The year before, Huelskamp was the least conservative of the Kansas bunch but at least he scored above 80 (barely, at 80.2) and was in the top 75.
Could it be the representative of the Big First has taken either his constituents or his quickly established conservative credentials for granted?
Even though he's only stood one U.S. House re-election campaign thus far, he does appear to be the only member of the Kansas delegation who won't draw an opponent in the 2014 races.
We would venture that Huelskamp is not trending liberal, even though his latest score is closer to Dan Boren, D-Okla., than it is to any of his fellow Kansas Republicans.
Huelskamp's score is skewed by the fact he's so far out of favor with the GOP leadership, he tends to vote the opposite of his own caucus. His self-inflicted isolation is putting him in no-man's land, where he can be ignored by Republicans and Democrats alike.
The First District of Kansas deserves better. We need somebody to represent us, not himself. And since it appears nobody from either party plans to run against Tim Huelskamp, we must ask him instead.
Mr. Huelskamp, the people of the Big First humbly request that you act as our representative. Please.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry