Kansas Primary Results: Pat Roberts Tops Tea Party Challenger (Updated) (Video)
Updated 11:56 p.m. | Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts survived a Republican primary challenge Tuesday, defeating Milton Wolf and extinguishing conservative hopes of taking down another incumbent this cycle.
Roberts led Wolf, 48 percent to 41 percent, when The Associated Press called the race for the incumbent with 70 percent of precincts reporting. That’s a weak performance for a three-term incumbent, but he held on in a year featuring several challenges to Republican senators.
Roberts, who was first elected to Congress more than three decades ago, battled the perception he was a creature of Washington, D.C., who spent little time at home in the Sunflower State. Wolf, a tea-party-aligned candidate and distant cousin of President Barack Obama, battered Roberts on the topic. But Wolf struggled to raise substantial funds to compete in the primary. Although he had the backing of a few conservative heavy hitters, including Senate Conservatives Fund, those groups were tied up with the Mississippi GOP runoff for an extra three weeks, and entered the race late, if at all.
Wolf, an emergency room doctor, is also under investigation by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts for posting photographs of patient X-rays on Facebook and adding his own off-color commentary.
Though Wolf gained some momentum in the final months, it was not enough to make up the difference.
In the general election, Roberts will face Democrat Chad Taylor, the Shawnee County district attorney, and independent businessman Greg Orman.
The race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Kansas’ 4th District Roberts wasn’t the only incumbent in the state to shake off a primary challenge.
Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo thwarted former Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s comeback attempt Tuesday, defeating the ex-member by a wide margin in the Wichita-based House seat.
Pompeo bested Tiahrt, 62 percent to 38 percent, with 39 percent of precincts reporting, according to the AP.
Pompeo won the open 4th District seat in 2010, after Tiahrt vacated it to run for Senate. Tiahrt lost that race to now-Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., ending his 16-year tenure in Congress.
In May, Tiahrt announced an eleventh-hour comeback bid against Pompeo, doing an about-face on many of his past comments about Pompeo’s service. Tiahrt also ran to the left of Pompeo, touting the earmarks he earned for the state — an issue maligned by the conservative wing of the GOP. Ultimately, Tiahrt’s familiarity with voters in the district was not enough to overcome Pompeo’s incumbency and cash advantage.
Pompeo will now cruise to re-election in November in this district, which voted for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a 26-point margin in 2012.
Kansas’ 4th District is rated a Safe Republican contest by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Kansas’ 1st District
Rep. Tim Huelskamp defeated a little-known Army veteran by an uncomfortably close margin Tuesday in the 1st District GOP primary.
Huelskamp led Alan LaPolice, 54 percent to 46 percent, with 82 percent of precincts reporting when the AP called the race.
Huelskamp was first elected in 2010, succeeding Jerry Moran, who vacated the seat to run for Senate.
Since his election four years ago, Huelskamp quickly began rankling House leadership. His behavior even led House leadership to remove him from plum committee assignments in December 2012.
The general-election race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.