The Republican Party primary for the 2nd Congressional District features the classic split in the GOP.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, faces a challenge on her right from state Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha.
“I’m preparing to be part of a conservative Republican Congress,” Pyle said.
The district includes much of eastern Kansas including western Douglas County, Leavenworth, Manhattan and Topeka. The Republican and Democratic party winners will face off in the Nov. 2 general election, along with Libertarian Robert Garrard of Edgerton.
Pyle opposes abortion while Jenkins says she supports abortion in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is at risk. Pyle has criticized Jenkins for being one of nine Republicans to vote against an amendment to stop federal funds going to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has said none of those federal funds go toward abortions.
Pyle has criticized Jenkins over the amount of taxpayer money she has spent on communications. And he has criticized Jenkins for votes she made when she was in the state Legislature for a tax increase.
“There’s a lot of difference between the incumbent and I,” Pyle said.
Vastly outspent by Jenkins, Pyle says he is hoping to ride the anti-government wave in the form of the tea party movement.
For her part, Jenkins says the No. 1 issue on the minds of voters is government spending and the increasing national deficit.
“Washington doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem,” she said. She voted against President Barack Obama’s federal stimulus package, and health care reform law.
Jenkins said she has conservative credentials.
“I’m pleased to be endorsed by the American Conservative Union. Holy smokes, I think that says it all. I have an “A” rating with them. Sen. Pyle has the endorsement of Sen. Pyle.”
Asked about the tea party movement, Jenkins said she is on board.
They are “singing many of the themes I’ve been singing for years,” she said, and bring energy to politics. “These are real people. These are mommas with babies in strollers. They’re just frustrated with the direction” of the country, she said.
Jenkins, a former state House member, state senator, and state treasurer, was elected to Congress in 2008. She defeated Democrat Nancy Boyda, who served one term.
In 2002, when Jenkins was a state senator, she said she would oppose a state sales tax increase but then voted for a $294 million tax increase, which included raising sales, inheritance, cigarette and liquor taxes. Jenkins has said the tax increase was needed to balance the state’s budget.
Pyle, who has served in the state House and Senate, also is slamming Jenkins for spending $422,000 in taxpayer-funded mailings in 2009.
“That is wasteful,” Pyle said. “That is $1,100 per day on taxpayer-funded junk mail.”
Jenkins said the expense was justified to communicate with folks in the 2nd District, and that she had reduced her office budget in other areas.