Washington Kansas Rep. Jerry Moran picked up an endorsement from Republican Sen. John McCain on Monday, touching off a tussle with his Senate race rival over earmarks and air tankers.
McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, said in a statement Monday that Moran has a proven record of fiscal responsibility and has opposed wasteful earmarks. The Arizona senator has long opposed earmarks.
The campaign of Moran’s opponent, fellow Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt, said Moran’s fiscal restraint is recent and comes at the expense of Kansas.
Moran and Tiahrt are vying for the seat that will be vacated by Republican Sen. Sam Brownback when his term ends in 2010. Brownback is running for governor.
No Democrat has formally announced a run for the Senate seat.
Moran said McCain’s “strong endorsement for my candidacy is very humbling and gives our campaign great momentum in the months ahead.”
McCain won Kansas in the 2008 November presidential election, but the state’s Republicans picked Mike Huckabee in the GOP caucuses.
Aaron Trost, Moran’s campaign spokesman, said that like McCain, Moran has worked against wasteful spending by opposing earmarks. Earmarks, also called pork, set aside funding for projects specific to a district or state.
Trost pointed to an Aug. 12 report from the conservative Club For Growth that gave Moran a 96 percent score for his votes on 68 amendments seen by the group as “anti-pork.” Tiahrt’s rating was 29 percent.
Trost said Moran has requested earmarks, but also supports a moratorium on them.
“While the current system is in place, Jerry will make responsible requests for his district, like securing projects for the Air National Guard and the Air Force,” Trost said. “Unlike his opponent, Jerry will take a firm stand against wasteful earmarks and congressional members’ pet projects that have nothing to do with Kansas.”
Moran sponsored or co-sponsored 25 earmarks totaling $17.4 million in spending bills for this fiscal year, ranking him 273rd out of 435 House members, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.