Washington Bureau

05.12.14

There's No Place Like Home For Kansas Senator Pat Roberts

Three-term Senator Pat Roberts overcame a legal challenge to stay on the ballot in Kansas's Republican primary on Monday.

Pat Roberts didn't need to put on a pair of ruby red slippers to return to Kansas.

Instead, the three-term Republican senator just had to overcome a long-shot legal challenge to his residency in the Sunflower State from his Tea Party primary opponent Milton Wolf, a doctor in suburban Kansas City.

Wolf, whose campaign against 78-year-old incumbent has been flailing since it was revealed in February he had posted macabre x-rays of his patients on Facebook. The Tea Party challenger, who has asserted Roberts is insufficiently conservative has focused his campaign on the allegation that Roberts didn't really live in Kansas, a story first unearthed by Jonathan Martin of The New York Times. The Wolf campaign labeled their opponent, who owns a home in Alexandria, Virginia as "Pat Roberts (R-VA) and asserted that he didn't qualify for the ballot because he wasn't really a Kansas resident.

However, the State Board of Objections unanamiously dismissed a challenge Monday about Roberts' residency, clearing the way for the Senator to stay on the ballot in Kansas's August primary. The board turned down the accusation that Roberts' residency in Kansas was a sham because he rents a room from campaign donors in Dodge City when he returns to the state. (Although Roberts also owns a duplex in Dodge City, he rents that out and does not live there). 

The Wolf campaign immediately fired back in a detailed press release that recapitulated their accusations against Roberts, including:

Pat Roberts owns a convertible that is registered to his Alexandria, VA home, with Virginia vanity plates reading “PR-USS.”  Why didn’t Roberts register his car in Kansas while he was going out of his way to get a Kansas driver’s license and establish a fraudulent voting address?  Pat Roberts' car bears the insignia of a Chrysler dealership in Maryland.  Is Pat Roberts aware that Dodge City has a fine Chrysler dealership?  If Pat Roberts lived in Dodge City, why did he travel 1,400 miles out of his way to purchase his car in Laurel, Maryland?

But, with Wolf's campaign stumbling and outside groups unwilling to come to his relief, the Tea Party challenger's last best chance was to hope somehow that Roberts got bounced from the ballot. With Roberts on the ballot, Wolf faces a long, uphill path to to victory in the August GOP primary.