By Hutchinson News, Nov. 1
Rural western Kansans will always bemoan the loss of representation in state and federal legislatures as long as population decline continues to make that a reality. But when it comes to Congress, at least in the case of Rep. Tim Huelskamp and Sen. Jerry Moran, eastern relocations don’t equate to any disregard for western Kansas interests.
As duly noted in a story last week in The Hutchinson News, Huelskamp and Moran have moved to new homes farther east in their respective geographical constituencies. But by all appearances, these were for practical and logistical reasons.
Shortly after entering Congress in 2011, Huelskamp and his family moved from the small town of Fowler to Hutchinson, 140 miles to the northeast. That’s not a bad place to be in the district considering it is a top population center, is the location of one of his district offices and is closer to airport transportation for flights to Washington.
Proximity to an airport probably played a big role in Moran’s move last year from his longtime home of Hays to Manhattan. Both Moran and Huelskamp are commuter members of Congress, which is to say they don’t consider Washington as their primary address and their families remained in Kansas when they started serving in Congress.
Sen. Pat Roberts is another matter. He uses a Dodge City address for his Kansas voting residence, but Roberts and his wife have long lived in Virginia. ...
When Congress is not in session, Moran and Huelskamp almost always are back in Kansas. Moran especially is highly engaged in getting around his district - both when he served in the House and now statewide as a senator. But Huelskamp has continued the tradition of visiting every one of the now 69 counties in the 1st District at least once a year; he maintains an active schedule of “town halls.”
Some critics of the commuters suggest that when members of Congress immediately go home upon adjournment the old deal-making that once was more common in Washington suffers. Maybe so. But the alternative risk is becoming Washington fixtures who have lost touch with the realities on the ground back home.
It isn’t as if Huelskamp has moved to Emporia or Moran to Johnson County. They’re doing just fine where they’ve chosen to call home.