Can Milton Wolf topple U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in the Republican primary election in August? We’re inclined to doubt it, and we have plenty of company. But we’re also inclined to think Sen. Roberts ought to campaign as if anything is possible.
Dr. Wolf, a Leawood radiologist, is an unabashed tea party candidate who seems to consider Sen. Roberts’ tenure reason enough to dump him. It’s not a new tactic, and it’s hardly a guarantee of success, but that isn’t deterring Dr. Wolf.
As he told the Associated Press, “Something very real is going on. This era of the career politician is ending, which I think is a very good thing for America.”
That era might be ending, though it’s hardly clear. And whether the ending of that era is a good thing would depend on what comes after it. What’s more, whether Dr. Wolf would be the beneficiary of this sea change might depend on how two others who seek the GOP nomination — Alvin Zahnter of Russell and D.J. Smith of Osawatomie — fare.
In any case, it seems premature to suggest that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat in a Virginia congressional district primary, although a major upset, has started the dominos falling. Even Sen. Thad Cochran’s primary election troubles in Mississippi haven’t yet spelled defeat, though he faces a runoff.
The trouble with Dr. Wolf’s argument is that much of the reason Sen. Roberts has been in Washington for decades is that Kansans keep sending him back there. He represented the 1st District in Congress for many years before his three Senate terms.
He’s swept aside all challengers, most of whom have been Democrats because opposition from within the Republican Party has been rare.
While Dr. Wolf is trying to give Kansans reasons to vote against Sen. Roberts — including constant reminders that the senator owns a home outside Washington, D.C., while merely renting a residence in Kansas — one would think the challenger would be extolling his own qualifications, positions and assets.
His positions don’t differ greatly from those of Sen. Roberts., and if Dr. Wolf is more conservative than the incumbent, he has yet to demonstrate it.
He also has yet to show Republican voters why making him their nominee would be worth giving up all of Sen. Roberts’ seniority — seniority that would almost certainly result in a committee chairmanship if the GOP retakes the Senate.