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Cantor Upset May Enliven Tea Party Challenge To Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts

U.S. House Majority leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat this week could revitalize a challenge to Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. Roberts faces a Tea Party backed primary challenge from Milton Wolf.

Most political types consider the three-term Senator pretty safe, but then they felt the same way about Virgina's Eric Cantor. Bob Beatty at Washburn University says Cantor’s upset could make Milton Wolf look like a contender.

“The biggest hurdle an underdog has to get over is convincing voters, convincing donors, convincing campaign workers that a candidate can actually win,” says Beatty.

And if Wolfe can pull that off, and position himself to win the August 5 Kansas Republican Primary, Roberts may not know it until it’s too late, at least if the political climate in Kansas is anything like it is in the 7th Congressional District of Virginia this year.    

“The wild thing about the Cantor race,” says Beatty, “is that the traditional matrix, like fund raising, money spent, and polling, completely were thrown out the window.”

Beatty cautions that Wolf’s got a harder job than Dave Brat, the guy who beat Cantor, because Wolf has to mobilize a successful statewide campaign.

Wolf, a medical doctor, also suffered a serious setback when it came to light that he had posted x-rays of murder victims, and snarky comments about them on Facebook. Wolf’s chief line of attack is that, while Roberts is a legal resident of Kansas, the senator actually lives in a suburb of Washington D.C.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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