Thursday’s vote in the U.S. House on a six-year highway funding bill may be further proof at least three members of the Kansas delegation are playing a serious game of “Who Is Most Conservative” among them.
The political stakes are high. The three members — Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Rep. Kevin Yoder, and Rep. Mike Pompeo — are believed to be on a collision course for the 2020 Republican Senate primary, assuming, as most do, that Sen. Pat Roberts will step aside that year.
And each House member appears determined not to cast any votes that might seem more moderate than his colleagues’. A moderate vote, each knows, might be dragged out for campaign commercials five years from now.
The latest example came Thursday, when the House approved a six-year, $325 billion transportation bill. It passed overwhelmingly, 363-64, with 186 Republican ‘yes’ votes.
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There were 58 GOP ‘no’ votes, though. Of those, three came from Kansas — Pompeo, Yoder, and Huelskamp. Put another way, more than five percent of the Republican opposition to the long-term highway funding bill came from Kansas.
By contrast, only Rep. Jason Smith was a ‘no’ vote from Missouri. The state’s other Republicans — Reps. Vicky Hartzler, Sam Graves, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Billy Long, and Ann Wagner — voted yes.
Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and William Clay also voted yes.
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Rep. Lynn Jenkins, also a Republican from Kansas, is an interesting case. She voted yes.
She’s also believed to be interested in statewide office (governor in 2018, perhaps, or the Senate in 2020). In any case, she’s a member of the House leadership — at least for now — and probably needed to vote yes on the highway bill.