TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state elections board Monday rejected a claim that U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is not truly a Kansas resident, allowing the three-term Republican to seek re-election this year to a seat the GOP always has counted on holding.
The State Objections Board’s decision means Roberts will be on the ballot in the Aug. 5 Republican primary. But a spokesman for his tea party primary challenger, Milton Wolf, said the issue of whether Roberts is qualified to represent Kansas — tied to his ownership of an Alexandria, Virginia, home — won’t fade away.
Eight northeast Kansas residents objected to having Roberts listed on the primary ballot, arguing that the senator lives in the Virginia suburb of Washington, and not Dodge City, Kansas, where Roberts is registered to vote. Wolf, a Leawood, Kansas, radiologist, has made the issue a centerpiece of his attacks on Roberts.
“Senator Roberts has been perpetuating a sham on the citizens of Kansas,” said Chuck Henderson, one of the objectors, a Manhattan, Kansas, engineer and a member of the Flint Hills Tea Party.
Roberts is registered to vote at the Dodge City home of a couple who has long supported him and rents him a bedroom and bathroom. Roberts and his wife also own a duplex unit in Dodge City but rent it out.
The senator submitted a sworn statement to the board that he pays state and local taxes and has a valid Kansas driver’s license, which he renewed in March. He also said nothing has changed since state officials certified his residency following his re-election in 2008.
“I want to be clear on the record here today — absolutely no uncertainty about it — Senator Roberts qualifies as a resident of the great state of Kansas,” said Michael Kuckelman, an Overland Park, Kansas, attorney representing Roberts.
Roberts has been favored to win a fourth, six-year term, despite Wolf’s challenge. The only Democratic candidate so far is Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor. Democrats haven’t won a U.S. Senate race in Kansas since 1932.
The three-member board’s decision was unanimous. It didn’t discuss the case in detail in public before voting, but Chairman Eric Rucker, the assistant secretary of state, said members will spell out their reasons in a written order. Board member Brant Laue, also Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s chief counsel, said only that the objections “are without a sufficient basis in law.”
The Objections Board is Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, all Republicans who’ve endorsed Roberts publicly. But all three sent substitutes: Rucker for Kobach, Laue for Colyer and Chief Deputy Attorney General John Campbell for Schmidt.
Roberts and Wolf also didn’t attend the meeting.
Roberts spokesman Leroy Towns hailed the decision and said, “It’s a clear message that Milton Wolf needs to stop lying about Senator Roberts’ record.”
But Wolf spokesman Ben Hartman said it’s problematic when a candidate must have an attorney to explain why he’s a legal state resident. He said with Wolf “no legitimate complaint would be raised to his residency because he lives here, and there’s no question.”
Roberts re-election campaign: http://www.robertsforsenate.com/
Wolf campaign: http://www.miltonwolf.com/
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