Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador today blamed the “establishment in Washington” for the defeat of his ally and fellow Freedom Caucus member Tim Huelskamp, who lost his re-election bid in a Republican primary in Kansas yesterday. Labrador, speaking at a “Conversations with the Congressman” meeting at an Eagle café, said Huelskamp lost “because he went against his leadership, and the entire establishment in Washington went against him – they spent $3 million to get rid of Tim Huelskamp. And unfortunately, they were successful.”
Huelskamp lost to GOP challenger Roger Marshall, an obstetrician from Great Bend, who was backed by the Kansas Farm Bureau, the Kansas Livestock Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, while Huelskamp had the backing of the Koch brothers and the Club for Growth, the New York Times reported today.
Each campaign had raised more than $700,000, and independent groups spent $2.7 million, largely in favor of Marshall, the paper reported. But the Times story suggested it was Huelskamp’s removal from the House Agriculture Committee in 2012, after clashing with then-Speaker John Boehner, that led to his loss in the agriculture-dependent state. “Getting kicked off the Agriculture Committee is a crime that can’t be forgiven,” Brian Scheideman, a 52-year-old driver’s education instructor, told the AP after voting for Marshall. “I don’t mind the independent voice, but you’ve got to figure out how to work with people.”
Labrador told a crowd of about 50 at the Wild West Bakery and Espresso in Eagle, "You pay a price. I made some promises to you when I got elected. Some of you like my promises, some of you don't like my promises. But I'm going to keep those promises to you, and if it means that I'm going to lose a race in the future, I'm OK with it."
Huelskamp was a stalwart of the Freedom Caucus, which Labrador helped form two years ago; the insurgent group in the House claims roughly 40 members, and took credit for toppling Boehner as speaker.