RUSH: I’ve got to straighten something out from yesterday, folks. Let me do that right now before I get too far into the program today and because I don’t want this to end up being the last thing I do. Yesterday we commented on the primary defeat in Kansas of incumbent Republican congressman Tim Huelskamp. And there was a… I don’t even remember the source for what I had yesterday. I remember it had a graphic that depicted election results.
And the story that was accompanying this was that Tim Huelskamp, an incumbent Republican, lost his primary challenge because of his Never Trump status, that he was a Never Trumper. This was the story going around. He was a Never Trumper, and because of that, the fervor for Trump was so big that anybody who was a Never Trumper on the Republican side was going to get shellacked. And I heard from a lot of people this is not actually what happened, and the story that is being circulated is incorrect.
It actually comes from sources deep inside the Republican establishment. There are other reasons why Tim Huelskamp lost, and it looks like the primary reason is, he was one of the early critics of John Boehner. He was and is a died-in-the-wool conservative, and I guess he was a member of the Freedom Caucus. But one of the things that set him apart early on was his willingness to take on the Republican leadership. Now, he’s from Kansas, and he had a seat on the Agriculture Committee.
And after he went publicly after the leadership, Boehner and some of the others, they removed him from the Agriculture Committee in the House, which is a huge deal if you represent a district in Kansas, and his district is No. 1. And it’s a highly reputed, very important district in Kansas. His constituents are very conservative. Obama only won 28% of the vote there in 2012. “The Big First” is what they call Huelskamp’s district. In National Review, they have a theory — an explanation — for why he lost.
I also got a note from Louie Gohmert explaining that this is really nothing to do with Trump so much as it is the establishment taking a guy out because he dared oppose them. First, they took him off the committee, and then the establishment funded his primary opponent and made it look like the whole campaign was over Huelskamp being a Never Trumper. He was pro-Cruz. He was a Cruz supporter, ardently so. But apparently he has never been and never said that he was a died-in-the-wool Never Trumper.
The district in Kansas that we’re talking about, which is known as “The Big First,” is, by reputation, “one of America’s premier farming districts. Nearly 90% of the district is rural, according to the Almanac of American Politics, and [the people who live there] are overwhelmingly dependent on the agricultural industry.” Sorry to use that word, but it works in this case. They’re dependent on the agriculture industry.
Much like autoworkers are “dependent” on the automobile business and they need it thriving, same thing here with the residents of this district. Well, “Huelskamp voted against the Farm Bill in 2013,” and the reason he said that he did was “principled opposition to food-stamp spending in the” Farm Bill. He took what he thought, what he said was a very conservative position against the expansion of the federal government, against the expansion of the welfare state. The food stamp program is run by the Agriculture Department. A lot of people don’t know that, but it is.
So because… And it’s what the Democrats do. They load up… The Farm Bill is one of these things that, seemingly every year, you never vote against it. It’s like voting against the Civil Rights Bill. It’s like voting against the flag. You just don’t do it, and he did — and he did because it was larded up with all kinds of Obama welfare state expansions. He thought his constituents would understand, but “it didn’t go over well back home.” And then after that, because he no longer was on the House Agriculture Committee… He had been thrown off “the panel the previous December by then-Speaker John Boehner as punishment for voting repeatedly against the party leadership during the GOP’s first term in the majority,” after having won back the House in 2010. So, as it’s written here in National Review: “Huelskamp couldn’t even tell his constituents that he had battled inside the committee for a stronger bill to better represent their interests… All of this triggered…”
Trump, so far, is not a factor, and that was this misleading thing that was attached to this story yesterday. “All of this triggered a primary challenge in 2014 — one that Huelskamp … successfully fought off. With the assistance of allied conservative outside groups, Huelskamp won a closer-than-expected contest against Alan LaPolice, a former education official, by 10 points. Huelskamp, feeling validated by the victory, pursued no course-correction upon his return to Congress.
“His first vote in January 2015 was against Boehner’s reelection as Speaker, signaling that he would continue to buck the party leadership whenever possible. … It was clear, however, that opponents in his district — and Huelskamp’s enemies in DC — smelled blood in the water,” because he’s no longer on the committee; he’s continuing to vote against the leadership. … Huelskamp, sensing danger, pleaded with Speaker Paul Ryan to reinstall him on the Agriculture Committee.”
He desperately wanted back. That would help his re-election effort every year.
But he had been on the warpath against Boehner.
“Ryan was non-committal, angering some conservative allies of Huelskamp who believed the GOP leadership was undermining one if its own members. … In the end, despite representing a deeply conservative district, Huelskamp’s political purity — he scored 100% with FreedomWorks, 100% with the Club for Growth, and 92% with Heritage Action in 2014 — could not save him. That’s likely because Huelskamp’s constituents, and Republicans voters in general, are less ideological and more results-oriented than once assumed,” and I have to agree with that.
And I say it regrettably.
So he’s in an agriculture district. He’s no longer in the Agriculture Committee. He’s being primaried by the agents of the Republican leadership who he has publicly opposed. He asked to be put back on the Agriculture Committee. Paul Ryan waffled and eventually said no. This all happened to coincide with Trump and it came to a head in this primary season, came to a head with the Trump election. This is not an ideological election, much to my chagrin. But it’s not just this one.
As the story points out, elections in America have become less about liberal versus conservative than about results. And that, to me, is reason number one why Obama gets away with the Limbaugh Theorem. Obama escapes any accountability. He’s not attached to any of the bad results! George W. Bush still is, when you’re talking about the economy. When you’re talking about health care, Obama does not suffer from health care because people see him as trying to bring insurance to everybody.
And the media has succeeded in portraying the Republicans as the people who don’t want there to be any improvement — i.e., reform — in American health care. So Obama, because people don’t see liberalism as a bad thing anymore (not as many people do) because elections are not ideological anymore (not as nearly as much as they used to be), Obama has been able to escape any accountability. Because he’s had a willingly… (sigh) Well, the media has been doing his bidding. So I wanted to straighten this out.
I’ve never like being wrong in misreading something, and I wish I could remember, but whatever my source yesterday was trustworthy — or I trusted it. But a number of people have written me about this, and some people say, “What does it matter, Rush? The guy lost. Why does it matter why?” We’re talking about his reputation and legacy. He doesn’t want to be portrayed as having lost because he was a Never Trumper when he wasn’t. There were other reasons for it, and I wanted to make sure we got it in the record.