The leading challenger to Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas has a $200,000 fundraising advantage over the incumbent ahead of the state’s Aug. 2 primary.
That’s largely because Huelskamp’s opponent, Roger Marshall, has loaned his campaign $199,000. And the numbers don’t yet account for what the Republican rivals have raised in the second quarter of this year.
Still, the primary battle over the sprawling “Big First” district in western Kansas is the most competitive congressional race in the state this year. It has tea party and conservative causes lining up behind Huelskamp, and agricultural and business interests behind Marshall, a physician from Great Bend.
Marshall raised more than $700,000 in the first quarter, according to Federal Election Commission reports aggregated by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington group that tracks campaign spending. Huelskamp, of Fowler, had raised only a bit more than $500,000, but he also had $800,000 in cash on hand, nearly twice as much as Marshall.
That means that although Marshall has raised more money than Huelskamp, the incumbent has a larger reserve. Huelskamp was girding for what he knew could be a tough race, because he had one two years ago.
A third candidate, Alan LaPolice, a community college student retention specialist from Clyde, had raised about $15,000. LaPolice came within a few thousand votes of defeating Huelskamp in the 2014 Republican primary, but he’s running as an independent this time in the 1st Congressional District.
Huelskamp’s fundraising matches Marshall’s when the latter’s loans and family donations are excluded, said Jim Keady, a Huelskamp spokesman.
“Unlike wealthy hospital CEO Roger Marshall,” Keady said in a statement, “our donations primarily come from thousands of low-dollar grass-roots organizations.”
$700,000 What Republican challenger Roger Marshall had raised as of the first quarter
$500,000 What Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp had raised as of the first quarter
Huelskamp was elected in the 2010 Republican wave that gave the party control of the House of Representatives. As an outspoken conservative, Huelskamp has often found himself crossways with Republican House leaders and the state’s agricultural interests.
In 2012, Huelskamp was removed from the House Agriculture Committee after repeated clashes with then-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. It was the first time in a century that Kansas didn’t have representation on that panel.
After Boehner resigned last year and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin became the speaker, Huelskamp expressed optimism that the new leadership would allow him back on the committee. That has not happened so far.
In 2012, Huelskamp was removed from the House Agriculture Committee after repeated clashes with then-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
In December, Huelskamp was elected to the House Steering Commitee, which selects committee assignments.
The Dairy Farmers of America and the Kansas Livestock Association have endorsed Marshall. The Kansas Farm Bureau has not made an endorsement in the contest, though the group has endorsed Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder and Republican Sen. Jerry Moran in their races.
The Kansas Contractors Association also backs Marshall.
The National Rifle Association endorsed Huelskamp in early June. He also has endorsements from Gun Owners of America, Kansans for Life and National Right to Life.
Huelskamp has received $10,000 from the Koch Industries PAC. The Wichita-based conglomerate is well known for supporting conservative candidates and causes.
The top industry contributing to Huelskamp’s campaign committee is oil and gas, with nearly $39,000 from individuals and political action committees from the sector. Ag interests have given him only $12,500.
Marshall, meanwhile, has raised nearly $33,000 from ag interests, in addition to $39,000 from the financial sector and another $39,000 from the health care industry.
Notably, Huelskamp has received $10,000 from the Koch Industries PAC. The Wichita-based conglomerate is well known for supporting conservative candidates and causes.
$47,000 What FreedomWorks for America has spent on ads for Huelskamp
$22,000 What Kansas Ag Communities Coalition has spent on ads for Marshall
The race has attracted some outside spending as well. FreedomWorks for America, a tea party super PAC, has spent $47,000 on advertising to support Huelskamp. Another super PAC, Kansas Ag Communities Coalition, has spent $22,000 on ads to support Marshall.
Neither the National Republican Congressional Committee – the Republican House fundraising arm – nor the Kansas Republican Party makes endorsements in primaries. The state party’s PAC gave Huelskamp’s American Freedom PAC $5,000 in 2014.