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Huelskamp tweets on Chipotle gun decision
Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp is known for posting some pretty pointed tweets on a daily basis. Most of the time they're devoted to ridiculing the Obama administration, Democrats, the federal health care law and similar topics.
But a couple of tweets he posted this week attacking the restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill have stirred more than the usual amount of controversy, especially now that he has drawn an opponent in his bid for re-election.
The spat started Monday when the Denver-based burrito chain made national news by asking its customers not to bring guns into its restaurants. That move came after gun-rights advocates reportedly brought military-style assault rifles into one of its restaurants in Texas.
Huelskamp, a conservative Republican from the "Big First" district of western Kansas, replied via Twitter on Tuesday - not once, but twice.
Many who follow his tweets remembered that it wasn't too long ago that Huelskamp was on the other side of the fence about restaurant chains and their political views. In a highly-publicized confrontation with Kansas University in 2012, when Huelskamp came to the defense of Chick-Fil-A, whose company president Dan Cathy expressed opposition to gay marriage.
Following those comments, petitions circulated on the KU campus urging the university to boot the chicken sandwich chain off campus. But in a letter to KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Huelskamp rose to Chick-Fil-A's defense:
"Kicking out a private business that is operating legally on the grounds that its leader holds a particular set of religious and political beliefs different from yours or any other official would violate the University's commitment to non-discrimination," Huelskamp wrote. “The University of Kansas has a proud tradition of allowing people of differing views to express those views; to discriminate and undo that tradition would be a travesty.”
That wasn't lost on the minds of some observers after Huelskamp's criticism of Chipotle.
Huelskamp was first elected to the safe Republican seat with 73 percent of the vote in 2010 when the incumbent Jerry Moran ran for the Senate. He was re-elected without opposition in 2012.
Since then, though, he has openly fought with the GOP leadership in the House, and in 2013 he was publicly and unceremoniously removed from the House Agriculture Committee by Speaker John Boehner. As a result, even the Kansas Farm Bureau political action committee has withheld endorsing him for a third term this year.
So far this year, three other candidates have lined up to challenge him, including one Republican, Alan LaPolice of Clyde, a military veteran and former school administrator who has also acted in a few films.
On Wednesday, Democrat James Sherow formally filed in the race. He is the second Democrat to file against Huelskamp but is considered the stronger contender since the other Democrat, Bryan Whitney, lives outside the district in Wichita. Sherow is a former mayor of Manhattan and a history professor at Kansas State University.