Many Kansans were relieved when tea party Republican Tim Huelskamp lost his re-election bid in the 1st Congressional District.
Republican Roger Marshall, a Great Bend obstetrician, won the race in 2016 and took the seat on the House Agriculture Committee Huelskamp had lost, which was encouraging.
Unfortunately, the new representative for the district covering western and central Kansas had a troubled first term.
Marshall joined President Trump in a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which would have left millions of Americans without health insurance, including many in a Big First district with a high number of lower-income, rural residents. Marshall further disappointed when he denounced Medicaid expansion with a hurtful claim that poor people don’t want health care and won’t take care of themselves.
Marshall also ignored the inevitable harm when he endorsed the discredited trickle-down, income tax-cut strategy executed in Kansas by then-Gov. Sam Brownback. Not surprisingly, GOP leaders in Washington, D.C., now are eyeing cuts to Social Security and Medicare to address a ballooning deficit worsened by their huge tax breaks for the rich and corporations.
The Big First deserves a more thoughtful voice in Congress.
Democratic hopeful Alan LaPolice of Clyde, a farmer and former educator, would deliver. Even though he’s run for the seat as an independent against Marshall and a Republican against Huelskamp, his core philosophies haven’t changed. He believes in country over party.
On Trump’s reckless tariffs, LaPolice knows the emphasis instead should be on expanding markets. Marshall wrongly embraced the president’s sad assertion that farmers should endure the additional hardship in exchange for better trade deals in the future — even though they cannot be guaranteed. And, Marshall helped stall progress on the Farm Bill with efforts to toughen access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a proven defense against hunger.
LaPolice also wouldn’t condone the boorish, uncivil rhetoric from the White House, as Marshall and others in Kansas’ congressional delegation have done by staying silent. While the president relies on hate and fear-mongering to rally his base over issues such as immigration, LaPolice would focus on realistic immigration reform that acknowledges the need for ag labor in Kansas.
LaPolice would better represent Kansas and its strong agricultural tradition, making him the choice for voters Tuesday in the 1st Congressional District.