Quick reach for a political parallel: Could Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s loss in the Kansas primary signal danger for Rep. Kristi Noem in the South Dakota general election?
Tea Party Republican Huelskamp got thumped by moderate Roger Marshall Tuesday, along with a number of conservative Kansas legislators in blowback from the failure of Governor Sam Brownback’s Grover-Norquistism. Further fueling Huelskamp’s loss was his failure to represent agriculture interests in a largely agricultural district. He voted against the Farm Bill in 2013 because it didn’t cut food stamps enough for his Tea Party tastes. His Tea Partying also cost Kansas its seat on the House Agriculture Committee:
What made Huelskamp’s vote especially damaging was that he no longer served on the House Agriculture Committee. He had been booted from the panel the previous December by then-Speaker John Boehner as punishment for voting repeatedly against the party leadership during the GOP’s first term in the majority. In other words: Huelskamp couldn’t even tell his constituents that he had battled inside the committee for a stronger bill to better represent their interests, because he no longer served on the committee [Tim Alberta, “A Lesson from Tim Huelskamp’s Loss,” National Review, 2016.08.03].
Although farm subsidy queen Kristi Noem backed Huelskamp’s drive to cut food stamps, she still had the good sense to vote for the Farm Bill. She’s also been smarter about kissing up the Speakers of the House. Nonetheless, Noem couldn’t get the Farm Bill passed on time. Worse, she abdicated her seat on House Ag by choice, a dereliction of duty of which Democratic challenger Rep. Paula Hawks has been making great hay.
Kansas farm voters recognized that a Tea Party ideologue wasn’t serving their practical needs and replaced him with a moderate Republican. Would it be that hard for South Dakota farm voters to recognize that their own Congresswoman is similarly slow at representing their practical interests and choose a pragmatic Democrat to do the job right?