TOPEKA — In a fundraising email Friday, the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp said the congressman’s primary opponents would “capitulate to the Left” if elected and castigated their opinions on immigration and health care.
“And if Hillary Clinton is elected, the last thing we need is someone like my opponents whose stated goal is to work with her,” the email newsletter said, referring to the Democratic front-runner.
The three-term tea party Republican is often criticized by his political opponents for his unwillingness to work with Democrats or more moderate Republicans, such as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Huelskamp is facing two Republican opponents in next year’s August primary, Great Bend obstetrician Roger Marshall and Clyde student retention specialist Alan LaPolice.
LaPolice said Huelskamp’s “angry emails” are used to spread “fear and misinformation” while raising money.
“The common thread of his angry essays is that ‘everybody else is trying to destroy America and he’s the only one standing in their way,’ ” LaPolice said in an email Sunday. “What you’ll never hear from him is a plan. What we’ve never seen from him is even a single proposed solution to America’s very real problems.”
“Tim Huelskamp can’t help himself,” Marshall added. “His entire time serving in Congress and now this campaign continues to be about tearing people down instead of building America up. He continues to pass along misinformation for his personal political gain.”
Mark Kelly, Huelskamp’s campaign spokesman, responded to LaPolice and Marshall on Tuesday.
“If Tim Huelskamp’s opponents were conservatives like they claim, they’d support Tim Huelskamp and his proven conservative record,” Kelly said. “Instead, Roger Marshall and Alan LaPolice are attacking Tim for doing exactly what Kansans want him to do.”
The subject line of Huelskamp’s email was “Last Night’s Debate” and it centered on the Republican presidential debate Thursday. Huelskamp said he agreed with much of what he heard.
“But we cannot just stop at ensuring the right, principled conservative candidate is in the White House,” Huelskamp stated. “When that person takes office on Jan. 20, 2017, they need leaders with a proven conservative record in Congress to work with them.”
“If you agree, will you make a contribution to my campaign right now?” the email asked.
“I have never met any of the elites in Washington and will put Kansans ahead of my own personal political urges,” Marshall said in response. “I will do everything I can to restore a Kansas voice on the Ag Committee. In doing so, I will likely disagree with Washington leadership on some issues, but I will never be disagreeable to the detriment of those who elected me to represent them.”
In a blistering paragraph, the Huelskamp campaign slung three charges against LaPolice and Marshall.
“My opponents refuse to commit to a complete repeal of ObamaCare. They call for things like a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. They stood silent in the face of the atrocities revealed at Planned Parenthood,” Huelskamp’s campaign wrote.
During an interview July 16, Marshall stopped short of calling for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act but said the federal government should instead give block grants to states and allow them to implement their own health care reforms.
LaPolice, meanwhile, has called for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. During an interview July 25, LaPolice said the federal health care law should be repealed and replaced by programs in each state to help people obtain health insurance, a similar proposal to that of Marshall’s.
“The interesting fact is that I have, for nearly two years now, been the only candidate who has proposed an actual replacement for the ACA,” LaPolice said Sunday, referring to his 2014 congressional run. “I’ve yet to hear Huelskamp even hint at what he would replace it with.”
Huelskamp, like all members of the state’s House delegation, was a co-sponsor of the American Health Care Reform Act in 2013 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Though LaPolice and Marshall have said they are opposed to amnesty for undocumented immigrants, both have indicated their support for further employment opportunities.
“There has to be a pathway to at least have a job,” Marshall said in the July 16 interview. “I’m not ready to jump on the amnesty bandwagon just yet, but we need to find a way to get these people into the system.”
On Monday, Marshall reiterated those statements, saying, “I favor immigration reform that secures our border and helps our farmers employ the legal workers they need. I oppose any and all amnesty.”
On the issue of Planned Parenthood, LaPolice said he wishes Planned Parenthood would stop participating in “abortion related activities” but added he is disappointed in politicians who have used recent scandals surrounding Planned Parenthood to further their campaigns.
“If the congressman wants to again shut down our government over this, let him. He can once again fall on that sword, and voters will see where his priorities are,” LaPolice said.
Two weeks ago, in a letter to Republican congressional leaders, Huelskamp joined 17 other conservative House members in stating he wouldn’t support legislation this fall to fund the government if it includes funding for Planned Parenthood.
“Tim Huelskamp’s record is conservative, constitutional and reflects Kansas values,” Kelly said.