The Washington political establishment took its first conservative scalp of the cycle with the recent defeat of Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), an outspoken member of the House Freedom Caucus.
This race is being used as a playbook to target other members of the group of about 40 fiscal and constitutional conservatives in the lower chamber, and those sharpening their knives aren’t shy about it.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus are a rare breed in Washington. They believe in free-market principles, reject cronyist policies that take advantage of taxpayers, and fight for constitutionally limited government. Occasionally, these convictions put them at odds with Republican leaders, who are often eager to cut deals with the White House and Democrats, and with Beltway insiders.
Parasitic, rent-seeking special interests — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — spent more than $3 million to smear Huelskamp and boost his primary opponent, Roger Marshall, who raised nearly $1.1 million on his own. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and others in the House Republican leadership refused to offer public support for Huelskamp or place him back on the House Agriculture Committee, from which he was unceremoniously removed for courageously standing up for conservative principles when John Boehner wielded the speaker’s gavel.
Simply put, Huelskamp’s defeat was meant to send a message to the other members of the House Freedom Caucus. The political elite is intent on taking out the most conservative members of the House. The animosity is so palpable that Brian Walsh, a former National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) political director, recently compared members of the House Freedom Caucus to cancer.