Kent Bush: Battle inside the GOP heats up
There’s a battle going on in Washington, D.C.
In fact, there is more than one. Of course, President Barack Obama and the Senate controlled by Democrats are claiming a mandate from November’s election to establish the policies upon which their campaigns were based. But the Republicans who maintained control of the House of Representatives also see themselves as having a mandate from their own districts.
But for some of those Republicans, carrying out their mandate got a little more difficult when they were taken out of the fight for not following orders.
The “fiscal cliff” negotiations and what Americans will pay have withheld from their paychecks in January are dominating the discussion. But the infighting for control of the Republican Party may have an even more lasting effect.
The battle between factions inside the GOP will have an impact on 2014 races and probably even the party’s nominee for president in 2016.
Any time a party loses a couple of big elections like the Republicans have, blame has to be placed. In this case, establishment Republicans are blaming the super-conservative tea party Republicans for the GOP’s failure to retake control of the Senate and contributing to Obama’s winning a second term in the White House.
In an effort to regain control of his majority, Speaker of the House John Boehner has reapplied his spray tan and started brining his idea of justice to the caucus.
One of the members who found himself on the wrong side of Boehner was Kansas’s First District Congressman Tim Huelskamp. For failing to support the speaker, Huelskamp found himself on the outside looking in when the committee assignments were announced. He is no longer on the agriculture or budget committees.
It is hard to imagine a representative with more farmers in his district than Huelskamp in the Big First. His district sprawls across most of western Kansas.
But Huelskamp says he was on Boehner’s naughty list for “only” voting with the leadership 95 percent of the time.
“We’ve heard from multiple sources that someone walked in with a list of votes and said if you didn’t reach a particular scorecard of what was considered the right vote, which by the way was not the conservative position, then they were going to remove you from the committee,” Huelskamp said.
The saddest fact in the argument may be that Boehner was able to find enough members who agreed with him more than 95 percent of the time to replace Huelskamp on both committees.
Like most of America, Boehner doesn’t understand - or care about - Kansas politics.
He doesn’t know that Kansas is home to thousands of RINO hunters just waiting to run in primary campaigns against Republicans who go to Washington and don’t vote with both eyes focused on conservative principles.
A Kansas Republican is not like an Ohio Republican. That’s like saying a Chihuahua and great Dane are the same. Both are dogs, but that’s where the similarities end.
The differences are almost as distinct within the Republican Party.
A voting record that would make coastal or urban GOP voters proud would put Huelskamp in the unemployment line.
Members like Huelskamp gave the Republicans conservative credibility that Boehner and his cronies can’t.
I know that loyalty is important especially when bargaining power is tilted toward the other side. But Boehner may be cutting off his nose to spite his face. Not having Huelskamp on the agriculture committee is an obvious example of retribution.
This kind of decision making will not lead the Republicans back to power. There are already rumblings of a second movement of the tea party coming for 2014.
Boehner is playing with fire and, if he isn’t careful, he’ll be the one who gets burned in the end.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.