Topeka The four winners of Kansas’ Republican congressional primaries wasted no time Wednesday beginning their campaigns for the general election and efforts to restore trust among voters.
During a rally at the Statehouse, they took direct aim at Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — even describing the event as the start of Pelosi’s retirement party.
“It’s a referendum on the status quo. Nancy Pelosi is a symbol of that status quo,” 3rd District hopeful state Rep. Kevin Yoder said of the California senator.
Yoder was joined by Mike Pompeo of Wichita, who won the 4th District primary, state Sen. Tim Huelskamp of Fowler from the 1st District and Rep. Lynn Jenkins of the 2nd District.
Jenkins, of Topeka, is seeking her second term in Congress after withstanding a challenge Tuesday from state Sen. Dennis Pyle of Hiawatha.
She said Pelosi and President Barack Obama were running up deficits and foisting bad policies such as health care reform and bailouts on Americans.
“Who would have thought you could run the federal government that way?” Jenkins said.
During the four years of George W. Bush’s presidency that Republicans controlled both the U.S. House and Senate, Congress also ran up large deficits. Months before he left office, Bush signed off on the October 2008 bank bailout approved by the Democratic-controlled Congress. The law created a $700 billion fund the government could use to buy banks’ failing assets.
Jenkins is running for a second term in the 2nd District covering eastern Kansas, including western Douglas County, Topeka, Pittsburg, Manhattan and Forts Leavenworth and Riley.
Kansas Democrats dismissed the GOP rhetoric.
“Kansas Republicans are hiding behind scare tactics, mudslinging and slogans while everyday Kansans are thinking about finding a job, putting food on the table and protecting their retirement,” said Kenny Johnston, the state Democratic Party executive director.
He said Kansans won’t give Congress back to Republicans, given how they haven’t helped the national economic recovery and how they managed Washington the last time they were in charge.
Jenkins acknowledged that Republicans didn’t fare well after they took control of Congress following the 1994 elections, but added that Democrats took a bad situation and “made a mess” over the last 19 months.
“I’ve said for several years when Republicans had unfettered power in Washington that they made mistakes, they spent too much money. But right now, the situation is a full-blown disaster,” Jenkins said.
Republicans hold the advantage statewide in voter registration. Democrats have managed to hold seats in the past two decades in all but the 1st District in western and central Kansas by appealing to moderate Republicans and unaffiliated voters.
Huelskamp said Republicans can win voters over and restore trust if they stick to the party’s conservative values and principles when they get to Congress. He’s seeking to represent the 1st District of western and central Kansas held by Republican Rep. Jerry Moran, who won the GOP primary Tuesday for U.S. Senate over Rep. Todd Tiahrt of the 4th District.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wasted little time before attacking Yoder, issuing a statement claiming he will say anything to get elected. He faces Stephene Moore, wife of retiring Rep. Dennis Moore in the 3rd District, which includes Johnson, Wyandotte and eastern Douglas counties.
Gabby Adler, DCCC Midwest spokeswoman, cited Yoder’s record of supporting tax increases early in his legislative career, but changing his tune as he became House Appropriations Committee chairman and considered running for Congress.
“Kevin Yoder has been in politics so long he can’t see the difference between a fact and fib,” Adler said.
Yoder said Moore is on record saying she supported the health care reform and cap and trade energy policy he says would kill jobs and delay any economic recovery.
“I know that her values and the policies that are coming out of the team in Washington are not the values of Kansas,” he said, adding that Moore would be a “rubber stamp for Pelosi.”