Some wondered whether the Tea Party would be defeated or reign supreme on Tuesday's primary elections in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington state. One of the tightest battles was in Kansas with U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts going up against Tea Party supporter Milton Wolf and, in Michigan, where "accidental" Congressman U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio took on Dave Trott. It turned out, however, the party did not pull through in this round of elections.
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts beat back his conservative challenger on Tuesday with 48 percent of the vote to Wolf's 41 percent. Roberts garnered over 112,000 votes while Wolf pulled in 94,000, according to Politico.
Trott was able to defeat Tea Party-aligned Bentivolio, which made it the third time a House incumbent was defeated in a primary this year, Politico wrote. Trott's landslide win earned him 66 percent of the vote to the incumbent's 34 percent.
Fromer Republican U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, who is described by CBS Local as an uknown former teacher, auto designer and reindeer farmer, had won the race in the state's 11th Congressional District in 2012 because he was the only Republican on the primary ballot after incumbent Thaddeus McCotter was discovered to have used fraudulent voter signatures for a ballot spot.
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Roberts had some tough competition going into Kansas’ primary on Tuesday, with many waiting to see if the Tea Party would be defeated again. The three-term senator was long favored to win the race and another six-year term in November, but Milton Wolf, a Leawood radiologist making his first run for public office, received national attention and tightened the battle against the incumbent Republican senator.
The primary campaign issues Wolf made against Roberts were his conservatism -- whether he was right-wing enough for Tea Party standards -- and the fact that he and his wife do not live in Kansas. The senator currently owns a home in Alexandria, Virginia, where his wife is a real estate agent, and rents a home in Kansas.
The day before Wolf announced his candidacy, last fall, Roberts established his voting address in Kansas. He also got a new driver’s license with the rental home’s address, even though the 78-year-old has lived in his suburban Washington D.C. home for decades. The New York Times described Roberts as “desperate to re-establish ties to Kansas and to adjust his politics to fit the rise of the right in the state” in a Feb. 7 article.
The Times also compared the senator to Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, who was defeated, noting that part of the reason for Lugar's loss was due to the perception he was a “creature of the Capitol” who didn’t actually live in Indiana. But Roberts’ staff didn’t seem worried about the parallel and told the paper: “We’re not going to get Lugared.”
Roberts, however, initially helped make Wolf’s case stronger when he told a radio interviewer last month, according to the Associated Press: "Every time I get an opponent -- uh, I mean, every time I get a chance - I'm home."
Roberts doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with living in the capital, and told Topeka radio's WIBW NewsNow at noon on Monday that it was the “height of absurdity” for people to criticize him for spending too much time in Washington.
"You've got to go where the fight is," he said. "I have to work in Washington."
Wolf, a Tea Party candidate who is the second cousin of President Obama, came under fire for pictures of X-rays of gunshot victims along with (what he thought was) humorous comments posted to Facebook. Wolf apologized, but Roberts turned it into a campaign weapon.
"Character counts, and in my primary race, we have tried to emphasize that in terms of facts about my opponent," Roberts told WIBW NewsNow.
In the 3rd Congressional District in southwestern Michigan, two-term Rep. Justin Amash was challenged by Brian Ellis, 53, who owns an investment advisory firm and serves on the school board. But Amash pulled ahead and won 57 percent to Ellis' 42 percent. The AP wrote Amash is popular among libertarians who approve of his challenges to the National Security Agency's surveillance of Americans.
In Missouri, five out of their eight House members were expected to defeat their underfunded challengers.
Washington state voters will replace Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican who is retiring. The two candidates who get the most votes through mail-in ballots will advance to the general election in November.
Tea Party supporter Dave Brat shockingly defeated former House majority leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s GOP primary this June, but Mississippi didn't yield the same results. Tea party supporter Chris McDaniel was defeated by incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran by 7,600 votes. But McDaniel accused his opponent of "stealing" the election through wooing Democrats. Although this is legal, it would not be if Democrats voted in their primary three weeks earlier, ABC News wrote.
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