Roberts hangs on for win in Kansas
Kansas GOP Senator Pat Roberts overcame a stiff challenge from physician Milton Wolf to win the Republican primary yesterday. Roberts, who won 48-41, had the support of the Chamber of Commerce and the national Republican party in his effort to fend off Wolf, who enjoyed the support of various Tea Party groups.
Roberts ran an intensive shoe leather campaign, trying to overcome charges by Wolf that he didn't care about the people of Kansas. Wolf pointed out that the incumbent senator doesn't even live in the state anymore, and that he had become part of the "inside Washington" clique in the Senate.
Largely overlooked in the race was the fact that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is chaired by Roberts’ Kansas colleague, Sen. Jerry Moran, whom some far-right activists have threatened with a 2016 primary challenge. That made a win for the incumbent even more personal.
The party made a strategic decision to focus on turning out supporters in Wolf’s home base. Wolf lives and works in Johnson County, in the suburbs of Kansas City, and he needed a healthy margin there to offset Roberts’ strength in the sprawling 1st Congressional District on the western side of the state, which he represented in the House for 16 years.
The NRSC sent six workers to the Kansas City area for the final 10 days, and they knocked on more than 10,000 doors in Johnson County alone, a party official said. A Washington phone bank set up by the NRSC also made more than 40,000 phone calls in the final three weeks.
Ultimately, Roberts fought Wolf to a virtual tie in Johnson County. Wolf took 45.7 percent to Roberts’ 45.4 percent, a 147-vote edge.
Roberts said in his victory speech that his campaign reached more than 200,000 GOP households in the state through live telephone calls and door knocks, most multiple times, over the final three weeks.
The NRSC also sent its regional political director into Kansas for the final three weeks before the primary; she focused on the early vote and worked with the campaign on messaging in the final weeks.
“Senator Roberts has served as a diligent check on Democrats’ push for ever expansive government and is a true conservative voice for our state,” Moran said in a statement celebrating Roberts’ win.
“To Brian Ellis, you owe my family and this community an apology for your disgusting, despicable smear campaign,” Amash said on Tuesday after winning the GOP primary. “You had the audacity to try to call me today, after running a campaign that was called the nastiest in the country.”
“I’m an Arab-American, and he has the audacity to say I’m Al Qaeda’s best friend in Congress. That’s pretty disgusting,” Amash said in a post-speech interview with Fox 17.
During his speech, Amash claimed that he “ran for office to stop people like [Ellis].”
“I ran for office … to stop people who are more interested in themselves than doing what is best for their districts,” Amash said. “Everyday Americans are taking back their government from the crooks and the cronies.”
Amash’s attacks did not stop with his opponent. He also had words for former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who announced in July that he would support Ellis rather than Amash.
“I want to say to lobbyist Pete Hoekstra, you’re a disgrace,” Amash said. “I’m glad we can hand you one more loss before you fade into total obscurity and irrelevance.”
Both Amash and Roberts are expected to cruise to victory in November.