Roberts fends off Wolf in Kansas primary

Tea Party-backed radiologist Milton Wolf, MD, lost his bid to unseat Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan) in a hotly contested Kansas primary race. With more than 98% of precincts reporting, Roberts bested Wolf 48% to Wolf’s 41% of the vote, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The three-time, 78-year-old senator came under heavy fire from Wolf’s campaign when it was discovered that Roberts longer owned a home in Kansas an rented a room in a friend’s Dodge City home. The paper reports that the issue was flamed when the 78-year-old senator told a radio announcer last month, “Every time I get an opponent—uh, I mean, every time I get a chance—I’m home.”

Although Wolf climbed in the polls in recent weeks, he was unable to shake off the damaging allegations of poor judgment leveled when it was revealed that he posted images of deceased patients with darkly humorous captions on a Facebook page frequented by radiology technologists.

Politico called the win narrower than expected and reported that Roberts got stron support from the party's national headquarters, which sent six workers to the Kansas City area for the final 10 days, and they knocked on more than 10,000 doors in Johnson County, where Wolf lives and practices. A Washington phone bank set up by the NRSC also made more than 40,000 phone calls in the final three weeks. The effort paid off with a virtual tie in Johnson County: Wolf took 45.7 of the vote and Roberts earned 45.4, a difference of 147 votes.

Wolf, a second cousin to President Barack Obama, was a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, calling for its replacement by free-market alternatives.  Roberts also used his opposition to the president’s healthcare reform act as a campaign plank.