Moderate Republicans endorse Democrat Jim Sherow in 1st District congressional race

First District congressional candidate Jim Sherow, a Manhattan Democrat, received the endorsement Tuesday of Kansas Republicans for Common Sense. Sherow is trying to unseat Republican Tim Hueslkamp of Fowler.

? A group of moderate Republicans on Tuesday endorsed Democrat Jim Sherow in the 1st District congressional race, saying they believe incumbent Republican Tim Huelskamp can no longer be an effective voice for central and western Kansas.

Sherow, 63, is a history professor at Kansas State University and a former Manhattan city commissioner. He served a year as mayor of Manhattan from 2011 to 2012.

Kansas Republicans for Common Sense, the same group that earlier endorsed independent candidate Greg Orman in the U.S. Senate race, said they were especially disappointed that Huelskamp was removed from the House Agriculture Committee because of his disputes with GOP leaders in the House.

“Tim managed to make himself so disruptive and so unreliable that the leadership had to remove him from that committee in order to let the process move forward,” said Jim Yonally, chairman of the group and a former Kansas legislator.

Huelskamp was removed from the agriculture and budget committees in December 2012 after he voted against the GOP leadership, both in committee and on the House floor, on a budget bill and on a continuing resolution to keep the government running.

But his fatal error may have been the 2012 GOP leadership elections, following the 2012 general election, when Huelskamp was caught on camera on the House floor, using an iPad to round up votes to oust Rep. John Boehner as Speaker of the House.

“Our district, the third largest agricultural economy in the country, has lost all meaningful representation in Congress,” Sherow said.

Mark Kelly, spokesman for the Huelskamp campaign, dismissed the endorsement, calling Sherow a “liberal Democrat” and touting Huelskamp’s efforts to battle federal regulations to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species, and proposed expansion of federal clean water regulations on rivers and streams.

“Congressman Huelskamp believes the people of the First District will re-elect him based on his record of working for them and standing with their values on election day in November,” Kelly said.

But Huelskamp’s ouster from the agriculture committee also has upset local farm groups in the district. Kansas Farm Bureau’s political action committee, which typically endorses Republican candidates in the 1st District, has remained noticeably silent in this year’s race.

“Based on our county recommendations, we will stay out of that race and not endorse any candidate this time around,” KFB spokesman Warren Parker said.

Sherow said he would have voted in favor of the 2014 Farm Bill, which Huelskamp opposed. He also criticized as “political theater” the dozens of votes by Republicans in the House to repeal or block implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Sherow also tried to head off criticism that, if elected, he would support Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California, a frequent target of GOP attacks, to return as Speaker of the House.

“First of all, I’m 63, so I don’t need the job,” he said. He added that he is not receiving any help in his campaign from the national Democratic Party, and therefore would not owe any favors to the Democratic caucus in the House.