Tonight’s Republican Senate primary in Kansas has been billed by Politico as the “last shot” for the Tea Party to defeat a Republican incumbent Senator this year. Apparently, Politico assumes that Lamar Alexander in Tennessee is not vulnerable to his Tea Party challenger.
So far, the returns are favorable to Roberts, but the race is close. Roberts leads challenger Milton Wolf by 47.8 percent to 41.4 percent with half of the precincts reporting.
Roberts has a pretty solid conservative record. His lifetime ACU rating is 86; during the Obama years it is 89.
But conservative though he is, there’s no question that Roberts has become attached to Washington, DC. Reportedly, he has more or less given up living in Kansas in favor of the DC area, staying in the homes of campaign donors when he returns to Kansas.
In this connection, Roberts committed a serious gaffe earlier this year when he said that he returns to Kansas “every time I get an opponent — I mean a chance.” His Tea Party opponent insists that Roberts got it right the first time.
Roberts deserves a stiff primary challenge if for no other reason than leaving himself open, in the current political environment, to the charge of being an absentee Kansan. Whether he deserves to be defeated is what voters had to decide today.
UPDATE: It’s looking good for Roberts. With two-thirds of the precincts having reported, he leads Wolf by 7 points and 14,000 votes. That’s a large gap with that much of the vote in.
Wolf, by the way, is a second cousin (once removed) of President Obama.
ROBERTS WINS: 48-41. He seems certain to win in November. It’s not clear how much time he’ll spend in Kansas after that.