By Paul Rhodes
Todd Tiahrt’s initial reaction to the challenge of taking on a seated member of Congress in a Primary Election battle was to walk away.
Never mind that the seat in question – the Fourth Congressional District of Kansas – had been Tiahrt’s for 16 years. He knew he would be up against the kind of campaign dollars that can dim your enthusiasm in a hurry.
“I started getting calls last year,” said Tiahrt, a longtime Goddard resident who came back to Kansas and started a consulting company after leaving office four years ago. Tiahrt gave up his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to run for the Senate and was unsuccessful in that bid.
At the Republican Party’s State Convention, Tiahrt received “lots of encouragement to run,” and by Memorial Day he had made the decision to run. That decision has launched a battle of philosophies and words between the two conservative Republicans, with both claiming vast differences between themselves and their opponent.
“People feel a disconnect with Mr. Pompeo,” said Tiahrt. He said that feeling comes from the policies Pompeo has promoted over the past four years, and how he interacts with his constituents and promotes his district.
“I’m for getting our local economy on track,” said Tiahrt. He said he “always went to bat for airplane companies” when he was in office, and that Pompeo’s aircraft legislation, aimed at streamlining Federal Aviation Administration regulations, won’t produce any results quickly, if at all.
“If he (Pompeo) is really fighting for jobs, why is he waiting so long to do it?” asked Tiahrt.
He also said Pompeo has supported legislation prohibiting the labeling of genetically altered products and punishing natural food suppliers with more restrictions. He said Pompeo also has supported legislation that blocks the publishing of consumer complaints on defective products.
“Moms want to know what’s in their kids’ cereals,” said Tiahrt. “I’m for moms, and he’s for Monsanto. It’s corporations versus the people…and he’s for corporations.”
Tiahrt wants to focus his efforts on issues deemed as important by the constituents of the Fourth District. He said those include balancing the federal budget, fighting for jobs back in Kansas and protecting individual rights.
“Mr. Pompeo voted no on the Massey Amendment and he has voted (in favor of legislation) to pry into our private lives,” said Tiahrt. “I think he’s chosen money over private citizens.”
Pompeo has had much more to work with as far as a campaign war chest, and Tiahrt said those numbers are more than $3 million versus his $150,000.
“He has outspent me about 25 to 1,” said Tiahrt, who has been encouraged with the polls showing he is closing the gap. As of last week, Tiahrt was trailing Pompeo by less than 5 percent, according to at least one poll.
“I’ve made some good progress,” said Tiahrt.