Pompeo dashes Tiahrt comeback hopes

Former Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s (Kan.) unusual comeback bid fell short Tuesday night as Rep. Mike Pompeo easily won their GOP primary battle.

Pompeo took 62 percent of the vote to Tiahrt’s 18 percent when The Associated Press called the race, with 39 precincts reporting.

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Tiahrt’s quixotic challenge to Pompeo came as a surprise for many reasons. He had previously endorsed the incumbent twice, and was running to his left in the primary, criticizing Pompeo for introducing a measure to give state governments control over labeling genetically modified food — a position that puts him in line with many liberals in the House and Senate.

He’s also pushed for more transparency in campaign finance regulations despite defending his own use of earmarks.

But Tiahrt wasn’t known as a liberal during his time in the House, and so it came as somewhat of a surprise that a handful of conservative groups that once gave him near-perfect scores on their scorecards came out opposed to his bid.

Americans for Prosperity has spent more than $409,000 on radio and television ads attacking Tiahrt, and the American Chemistry Council invested another $165,000 opposing his comeback bid.

Tiahrt got support from a super-PAC backed by oil magnate Wink Hartman, to the tune of about $220,000. But he’s been heavily outspent and had just $65,000 cash on hand as of July 16, to Pompeo’s $1.6 million.