Topeka — Anti-tax increase crusader Grover Norquist swung through Kansas on Thursday and compared Republicans who vote for tax increases to "rat heads in a Coke bottle."
Norquist, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Tax Reform, helped provide an award to state Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, a leading opponent of tax increases in the Kansas Legislature who is considering a run for Congress.
Norquist, a close ally of President Bush and key figure who helped push through the administration's tax cuts, said Republicans should adhere to the anti-tax philosophy.
"Republicans who vote for tax increases are rat heads in a Coke bottle. They damage the brand. They don't just hurt themselves," Norquist said.
His comments brought a shrug from State GOP Chairman Tim Shallenburger, who said Norquist represented a special interest, anti-tax group.
"He is selling his own recipe of what a Republican should look like," Shallenburger said.
"Generally, Republicans should not support tax increases, but I wouldn't say unilaterally that if they do, they're the equivalent of a rat head in a Coke bottle," he said.
He added: "Taxes have come from somewhere. In Kansas, the Democrats have not controlled the process enough to where they can be blamed for everything."
For years, Norquist has been getting Congressional candidates to sign a pledge that they will not vote for tax increases. Currently, 222 members of the House and 46 senators, including all of Kansas' Republican delegation, have signed the pledge.
"The Republican Party needs to stand at the state level as it does at the national level and say no to higher taxes," he said.
Norquist also spoke against judges making decisions that he said should be left to elected lawmakers.
Huelskamp has opposed tax increases and been a leader in efforts to reduce the authority of the Kansas Supreme Court in the current school finance case, in which the court ordered lawmakers to increase funding.
Huelskamp's was named by Norquist's group, and Karl Peterjohn, executive director of the Kansas Taxpayers Network, as a "hero of the taxpayer."
Huelskamp has announced his intention to run for Congress if U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, a Republican from Hays, decides to run for governor. Moran's office said no decision has been made yet on whether he will run for governor.