Another agricultural group is backing the Republican primary challenger to U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp in the sprawling 1st District of western and central Kansas in what is anticipated to be the most competitive House race in the state.
The Kansas Farm Bureau’s political arm, Voters Organized to Elect Farm Bureau Friends, announced Friday its endorsement of Great Bend obstetrician Roger Marshall.
Huelskamp, a tea party favorite, has been losing support in his mostly rural district since he was kicked off the House agricultural committee by his Republican colleagues.
“In conventional political thinking Huelskamp should be very vulnerable in the 1st District because of the agricultural issues, of course meaning his difficulties with the ag committee and then various ag groups endorsing his opponent,” said Bob Beatty, political science professor at Washburn University.
“So the big question is: will the 1st District go back to normal, meaning that ag is the most important thing in the district?” Beatty said. “Or is this new normal where fighting the establishment in Washington is more important than the traditional agricultural politics?”
Huelskamp’s campaign did not immediately return phone and email messages.
“Agriculture is what ties Kansans together. The whole state beats to the rhythm of the agriculture industry,” Marshall said in a news release. “Kansas Farm Bureau is our voice, always fighting for the hard working farmer and farming families.”
KFB President Rich Felts says endorsement decisions are based on its county affiliates’ recommendations from across the state.
The Kansas Livestock Association endorsed Marshall earlier this year. The two influential farm groups did not endorse a candidate in that race when Huelskamp ran for re-election in 2014.
Marshall campaign notes he has also gotten endorsements from an ethanol producers’ trade group, Renew Kansas, as well as the Dairy Farmers of American, Grain and Sorghum Producers and the Corn Growers Association.