By John Celock
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) beat back a Republican primary challenge from President Barack Obama’s Tea Party cousin in the latest attempt by the Tea Party to knock off an incumbent senator.
Returns show Roberts leading Milton Wolf 48 percent to 41 percent, with the remainder of the vote going to two lesser known candidates. The seven point win for the three term incumbent comes at the end of the race that focused on his residency, along with issues over which candidate was more conservative.
Roberts now enters a three way general election against Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor (D) and independent businessman Greg Orman.
Wolf, who shot to attention for his opposition to Obamacare, focused much of his campaign on a New York Times story from February which indicated that Roberts rents out his Dodge City home and resides with a campaign contributor when in Dodge City. Kansas Republicans objected to the notion that Roberts is not in the state, telling The Celock Report that he regularly attends events around the state, not just in Dodge City.
Wolf, a physician. quickly found himself under fire following revelations that he posted graphic x-ray photos of gunshot victims on Facebook. Wolf said he posted the photos as an educational exercise.
Roberts focused much of his campaign on his record, along with crisscrossing the state. The incumbent had worked to fend off stronger challengers by consolidating his support among state Republicans, including backing from Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), leaders of the state’s conservative Republican movement. Roberts also debuted a campaign ad in the closing weeks with footage of Wolf saying he hoped Obama succeeded.
Wolf tried to center attention in the campaign’s closing days on an anti-Washington argument and saying Roberts was ducking a debate because he did not want to discuss his record.
In the Democratic primary, Taylor narrowly defeated attorney Patrick Wiesner by 3600 votes in a closer than expected race.