Things are heating up in the Big First Congressional District Republican primary race pitting challenger and Great Bend doctor Roger Marshall against incumbent and Fowler native Tim Huelskamp. In a flurry of emailed news releases issued by both campaigns last Friday and this Monday, the candidates are boasting about their campaign war chests and taking pot shots at each other.
First, on Friday, Marshall, announced that Kansans for Marshall raised over $500,000 in 2015. “When we started this campaign in May, we truly didn’t know what to expect. After putting nearly 20,000 miles on my truck meeting with anyone willing to listen, it is so exciting to see the traction we are getting with voters in all 63 counties,” Marshall said.
“Our early success, not only in fundraising, but with key endorsements like the Kansas Livestock Association and the Kansas Contractors Association, has been a humbling process and we are just getting started.” The Marshall campaignhad just under $350,000 cash-on-hand on Dec. 31.
This drew a response from Huelskamp a matter of hours later.
Huelskamp reported his campaign “will hold a massive cash lead heading into election year. After a strong fourth quarter, Team Huelskamp will have a record $774,000 in the bank - $433,000 more than his nearest competitor. Huelskamp has received a record number of contributions from more than 2,800 individuals in 2015,” the statement said.
“After reviewing Roger Marshall’s report, it is clear the rich hospital CEO is desperate,” said Huelskamp campaign spokesman Mark Kelly. “Not only is Marshall trying to buy this seat by giving his campaign a massive $160,000, but now he is asking for and taking money from a Washington organization that is pro-abortion and pro-Obamacare expansion in Kansas - a group with which he has close ties.”
According to Kelly, the Federal Election Commission notes that Marshall received a $2,500 contribution from the “pro-abortion, pro-ObamaCare American Congress of OB-GYNS PAC.” He went on to say that Marshall is a “Fellow” of the “liberal group which supports Planned Parenthood. And Marshall personally gave the PAC $1,000 on October 30, 2015.”
This prompted a response from the Marshall camp Monday. Marshall called on Huelskamp to “pay taxpayers back for the $64,000 he recently spent on self-promotional campaign mail as reported by the Topeka Capital Journal.”
“Huelskamp has a history of frivolously spending taxpayer dollars,” Marshall said. “Being a career politician does not exempt him from being held accountable for abusing his access to Kansans’ hard-earned tax dollars to fund his campaign efforts.
“By his very own admission, Huelskamp used taxpayer dollars to promote himself in grandiose terms just days after our campaign received notable agricultural and small business endorsements,” Marshall said. “Anyone who saw these mailers knew they were not above board and didn’t pass the smell test,” Marshall said. “He needs to immediately reimburse the hard-working Kansas taxpayers, because they should not be footing the bill to further his political career.”
The Big First” encompasses 63 counties in western and northern Kansas (more than half of the state), making it the 12th largest congressional district in the nation.