Last month, K-State professor of history and former Manhattan mayor Jim Sherow officially declared his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in Kansas’ 1st Congressional District. Republican Tim Huelskamp has held the seat since 2011.
“I felt like there wasn’t effective representation in the 1st District,” Sherow said. “Tim Huelskamp was taken off the agricultural committee by his own party leadership, and he was also taken off the budget committee. Those are very important committees for our district.”
Sherow also said that the political posturing surrounding the shutdown of the federal government in October had a hand in his decision to run. He said that, if elected, he plans to approach his congressional service the same way he did his terms as Manhattan mayor (2011-12) and city commissioner (2007-13).
“We worked with the community to achieve goals we all had in mind,” Sherow said. “It didn’t matter in the least what political party people identified with. The question was, ‘What’s the goal and what do we want to accomplish?'”
Nick Leiker, sophomore in pre-law and political science and membership coordinator for K-State’s College Republicans, said that Sherow has good ideas, but won’t have an easy path to the U.S. House.
“For a Democrat in the First District, it will be relatively difficult,” Leiker said. “If he can communicate his ideas to the public, he has a decent shot, but given that we are in a red state, it will be difficult for any Democrat to challenge for a seat held by Republicans as long as this one has.”
According to Leiker, Huelskamp has a lot of people who want to run against him. Alan LaPolice, resident of Clyde, Kan., has also expressed disapproval of Huelskamp’s representation. LaPolice is a republican Congressional candidate from Kansas’ 1st District, which includes Manhattan.
Scott Seel, Sherow’s campaign manager, said that another Democrat has filed paperwork to appear on the ballot for the party’s primary in August.
“We want to return responsibility, respect and results to the 1st District,” Seel said. “Jim is running to represent the hardworking people of the district, not just one issue. We want to listen to the people of the district and support what’s best for them.”
Sherow said he identifies with a movement in Congress known as No Labels, an organization made up of Democrats, Republicans and independents. According to the organization’s website, its members are, “dedicated to promoting a new politics of problem solving.”
“When you take an inflexible attitude and approach to government, you don’t get anything done,” Sherow said.
After the primaries in early August, the Democratic and Republican nominees for the seat will square off in the general election on Nov. 4. The 1st District, which geographically covers more than half the state, has been held by Republican representatives since 1955. It is one of the largest districts in the country, with approximately 675,000 constituents.