At Friday’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club, United States Congressman for the fourth district of Kansas Todd Tiahrt was the speaker. Dion Lefler of the Wichita Eagle covered Tiaht’s speech in the news story Tiahrt offers thoughts on Obama, stimulus to Wichita Pachyderm Club. After the meeting I spoke to the congressman and asked a few questions.
One topic that seems to be on the minds of many Republicans is the desire to avoid a prolonged primary battle for the United States Senate seat between Tiahrt and Kansas first district congressman Jerry Moran. I asked Tiahrt if it’s important to avoid this conflict.
“Everybody that’s concerned about that ought to get on my team right away. That would be the most significant thing that would eliminate a primary.” Tiahrt added that people are looking for someone who gets the job done. He said that I’m the one who gets the job done, and that our senators come to my office, not Moran’s, when things need to get done in the House.
I asked if he and Rep. Moran could come to some agreement to avoid a messy primary, perhaps expenditure limits. Tiahrt would not make a commitment to such an agreement unilaterally and said “I’m going to do what it takes to win.” Voters in Kansas have a right to know the records of both candidates, he said, and limiting resources might limit his ability to get out the message.
Many local Republicans are expressing interest in replacing Tiahrt in Congress. So does he have a favorite? “We have a lot of quality candidates” was his diplomatic response.
Tiahrt better have a job lined up! His negatives are too high within the Republicans that will vote in a primary. Johnson, Douglas and Western Kansas counties will go with Moran. Tiahrt’s conservative base is tired and full of apathy.
Too bad Tiahrt doesn’t get it. He’s a great congressman and it is a big loss for Kansas to give up his position in the House, but he hasn’t done the prep work like Moran has to be Senator. Tiarht has no good replacement lined up (Huelskamp is lined up to replace Moran), and has not made himself known around the state (as Sloan pointed out). Tiarht should work on those things first and run for Senate when Roberts retires.
Tiahrt does not have a replacement in place because he needs his position when he drops out of the Senate race. Matt Schlapp will try to replace Tiahrt, but the problem is that he is now a lobbyist, worked in the Bush White House, and helped to cheat Gore in Florida. His wife is from the sunshine state and will not move to Kansas.
Tiahrt hasnt made a commitment to run for senate yet, just a candidacy form to the FEC. When does he have to commit?