Kansas 1st Congressional District: I'm With Tim

In a recent interview, President Obama told ‘TODAY’ Show host Matt Lauer, ‘when you actually look at the (health care) bill itself, it incorporates all sorts of Republican ideas…” Like it or not, Obama was correct, too many Republicans were pushing for big government health care takeovers.

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And I’m not just talking about Mitt Romney’s failed experiment in Massachusetts, though that is the most prominent example. Across the nation, too many “nanny state” Republicans embraced the notion that government could — and should — impose individual mandates on its citizens (for our own good, of course).

Case in point, Kansas state senator Jim Barnett (R) — who currently has a slight lead in the race for the open Congressional seat in Kansas-1 — pushed for an “Obamacare-esque” bill in Kansas less than three years ago. Now, Barnett wants to go to Washington to, presumably, help grow government as a Republican.

SB 309, aka. “The Kansas Health Care Connector Act” or “BarnettCare” would have included an individual health care insurance mandate for all Kansans. It would also have imposed much harsher penalties for non-compliance than Obamacare, giving the state the power to withhold tax refunds and garnish wages up to $10,000 for those who failed to purchase insurance through the government exchange. BarnettCare would have also imposed massive new employer mandates. Barnett’s bill didn’t make it out of committee, a point which is both good and bad (the fact that it never came to a full floor vote has allowed him to pretend as if he never proposed it).

Open seats are rare, and thus, the Kansas-1 primary race includes numerous candidates. But it is essentially a two-person bid, with Barnett holding a slight lead over conservative favorite Tim Huelskamp in the polls (though Huelskamp leads in the money race). Huelskamp is essentially a conservative rock star who has earned the support of disparate groups and individuals such as The Club for Growth, Ron Paul, and Ken Blackwell — just to name a few.

Under normal conditions, Huelskamp would win easily. But while Barnett is the sole liberal in this GOP primary campaign, Huelskamp has to fend off several lesser-known conservative candidates — who entered the race merely because they saw a golden opportunity to win an open Congressional seat in a good Republican year. It is unsettling to think that these candidacies may siphon off just enough votes to cost Huelskamp the election, and to guarantee liberal Jim Barnett wins this safe Republican seat.

With conservatives hoping to make big gains in 2010, it would be truly sad to see more big government Republicans coming to Washington — especially when we have a chance to elect a real small government pro-liberty Republican like Huelskamp. Help me help him.

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