Pat Roberts fends off tea party challenger - KCTV5

Pat Roberts fends off tea party challenger

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JOHNSON COUNTY, KS (KCTV/AP) -

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts fended off an aggressive challenger Tuesday in the Kansas Republican primary, dealing another blow to a national tea party movement that has targeted longtime Washington incumbents.

Roberts, 78, is seeking his fourth, six-year term while the 43-year-old Milton Wolf tried to bank on Republicans frustrated with Congress by portraying Roberts as a Washington insider who doesn't live in Kansas.

Roberts had expressed confidence that he would win. This was Wolf's first bid for office.

The campaign ended with a flurry of negative television ads.

Roberts ran a spot highlighting Facebook postings by Wolf, a Leawood radiologist, of graphic X-ray images of fatal gunshot wounds and other serious medical injuries. The personal Facebook page has since been disabled. The ad suggested that Wolf is unfit, citing news reports in late July about the state medical board investigating Wolf over the postings.

Two other lesser-known candidates were also on the GOP primary ballot. Two Democrats are running for their party's nomination, and a northeast Kansas businessman is running as an independent.

Roberts is a huge favorite to win in November in conservative Kansas.

Republicans enjoy a nearly 20 percentage-point advantage among registered voters and have won every U.S. Senate race in the past 80 years.

Wolf has said he is a distant relative of President Barack Obama but stressed his strong opposition to the Democrat's signature healthcare overhaul. He said his mother and Obama's grandmother were cousins, describing himself as a second cousin, once removed, of the president. He acknowledges that they did not meet until after Obama was elected.

Later, he attacked Roberts as a career politician out-of-touch with Kansas.

Roberts overcame an early-July gaffe in a radio interview about the rented space in a Dodge City home he lists as his official residence and attacked Wolf relentlessly over questionable postings of graphic X-ray images on a personal Facebook page in 2010.

Wolf had the backing of national tea party groups that were energized by U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's loss in Virginia's GOP primary in June.

After his defeat, Wolf called for party unity.

"It's important we as Republicans come together in this November election so we can win that Senate," he said. "I'm calling on all of you be the Republicans we need you to be. Be the conservatives we need you to be, be the Americans we need you to be."

He said Kansans are wanting change in Washington, which he said was the bedrock of his campaign.

Click here to see August primary election returns.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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