Statehouse Live: Echo accusations reverberate in 2nd Congressional District race

Democrat Tobias Schlingensiepen, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, usually gets applause when he says that the 2nd Congressional District “needs a voice, not an echo.”

Schlingensiepen, of Topeka, has said that Jenkins, who is seeking her third term in office, almost always votes the way Republican leaders tell her to vote.

But in a recent campaign email, Jenkins’ campaign tries to turn the tables on Schlingensiepen, saying that her Democratic rival “is echoing the wishes of the National Democratic Party leadership.”

Jenkins’ campaign then compares quotes from Schlingensiepen with those of various Democratic leaders including President Barack Obama.

For example, when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney picked U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate, Obama said, “He’s a good man and an articulate spokesman for Romney’s vision, but that vision is one I fundamentally disagree with.”

The Jenkins’ campaign then cites Schlingensiepen’s quote about Ryan: “He appears to be a truly nice guy, but that disguises a dangerous agenda for seniors.”

The Jenkins campaign said it wonders “if Tobias Schlingensiepen will ever do anything other than echo the talking points of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama.”

Asked to respond, Schlingensiepen said the Jenkins campaign statement shows how out of touch she is.

“What does Congresswoman Jenkins want me to do when I’m asked a question? Does she want me to lie? Paul Ryan does appear to be a truly nice man, but the Ryan Budget that Congresswoman Jenkins has repeatedly voted for does set a dangerous agenda for seniors, college students and everyone else in the 2nd District.

“We didn’t send Congresswoman Jenkins to Washington to bicker. She is out of touch with what people are going through, and that’s sad,” Schlingensiepen said.

The 2nd District includes much of eastern Kansas, including all of Douglas County and Lawrence. Schlingensiepen and Jenkins face off in the Nov. 6 general election.