Conservatives target Pat Roberts, Kansas
By: Alexander Burns
July 16, 2014 08:47 PM EDT
National conservatives are looking toward Kansas in a last-ditch effort to unseat a GOP Senate incumbent this cycle, with one influential outside group launching a new barrage of ads against Republican Sen. Pat Roberts as early as Thursday.
Senate Conservatives Action, an arm of the national activist group Senate Conservatives Fund, has reserved several hundred thousand dollars in airtime in Roberts’ reelection race. The longtime incumbent faces a challenge from SCF-endorsed physician Milton Wolf, among other candidates.
Two media tracking sources confirmed that the group is poised to start a fresh round of ads; one buyer said Senate Conservatives Action had already booked $209,000 in TV time, with that number still likely to grow.
An official with the group did not return an email seeking comment.
The Kansas primary on Aug. 5 is one of the last remaining chances for conservative activists to take down a sitting Republican lawmaker, after an all-out effort from national groups on the right failed to topple Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran in June.
Roberts, who was first elected to Congress in 1980 and has served three terms in the Senate, has faced criticism for spending too little time in his home state and for not advocating strenuously enough for a hard-line conservative agenda.
Wolf, a radiologist by training, is a decidedly imperfect challenger; a local news report revealed earlier this year that he posted X-ray images of gunshot victims to his Facebook page and made questionable jokes about the injuries.
The renewed offensive from Senate Conservatives Action indicates that national activists have not yet given up on Wolf — or on the dream of making an example out of a complacent Senate incumbent this year. The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, another out-of-state activist group, also backed Wolf earlier this week.
Kansas has unexpectedly emerged as a tumultuous political battleground in 2014, due to a chaotic Senate race and a surprisingly contentious reelection fight for Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.
In addition to Roberts and Wolf, two other minor candidates are seeking the Republican nomination. Prosecutor Chad Taylor is running as a Democrat in the general election, while wealthy investor Greg Orman is seeking the seat as an independent.