Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) staved off primary challenger and tea partier Milton Wolf to win the Republican primary for Senate in Kansas.
At 11:03 PM the race was called by the Associated Press for Roberts, who had been polling well-ahead of Wolf in the leadup to Tuesday’s primary. With 71.4 percent reporting Roberts beat Wolf 48.1 percent to 41 percent.
Wolf’s defeat means the tea party wing of the GOP and the deep pocketed outside groups that support tea party candidates suffered another loss in the 2014 Republican primaries between a conservative challenger and an establishment incumbent.
Wolf was the favorite of conservative outside groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund but Roberts also had help from powerful political action committees sponsored by the National Rifle Association, the American Hospital Association, and the American College of Radiology Association, spent $337,000 on ads and positive messaging to boost Roberts, according to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI).
Meanwhile, a significant chunk of the advertising for Wolf by his friendly outside groups went to negative advertising. Of the $809,000 those groups spent collectively on Wolf, 73 percent of that ($588,000), went to attacks against Roberts, federal records analyzed by CPI show. Spending from Senate Conservatives Action, the super PAC arm of the Senate Conservatives Fund, accounted for $499,000 worth of the negative advertising attacking Roberts in order to help Wolf, according federal records analyzed by CPI.
The race, for Roberts, wasn’t without a few bumps. Especially the added attention Roberts faced after The New York Times reported that Roberts didn’t actually have a residence in Kansas and, when he needs an address in the state, uses one of a residence owned supporters. Roberts also faced questions about how much time he spent in the state.
But the race wasn’t a cakewalk for Wolf either. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the primary was when news broke that Wolf, a distant cousin of President Barack Obama and a radiologist, posted graphic images of deceased patients on his Facebook. Wolf later said he did that as a way of coping with the tragedy he saw as a doctor.