OVERLAND PARK –In a small office in this Kansas City suburb, Milton Wolf–doctor, columnist, distant cousin of Barack Obama–tells two dozen supporters he would make a better U.S. senator than the incumbent, Pat Roberts.
“He’s our senator, and he deserves our respect,” he says, to polite applause. “I hope that we can convince the senator that this should be a campaign about issues, instead of about personal destruction.”
Then: “I’d ask you to stand up for our Constitution. And I would ask you to stand up for the American idea itself, that American idea of individual liberty, of limited government and free market values.
“If you’ll stand for those things, we’ll be standing together, and we’ll be fighting, and we will win.”
Heads nod all around. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Milton, what with those strange Facebook posts, but maybe his Tea Party crusade is getting back on track. Maybe the lamestream media is moving on. Maybe the government can still be saved.
Or, maybe not. It’s possible Kansas is too conservative for Milton Wolf. Too conservative, in fact, for the Tea Party.
Kansas seemed primed for a Tea Party insurgency six months ago, when Wolf, who turns 43 on April 8, announced a primary challenge to Roberts, a fixture of the state’s Republican politics since Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural.
By almost any measure, the state was, and is, deeply red, perhaps the most conservative place in America. Every statewide elected official is a Republican, led by Gov. Sam Brownback, a tax-slashing social conservative and one-time presidential candidate. Secretary of State Kris Kobach is nationally known for his work to restrict immigration and voter registration. Koch Industries is headquartered in Wichita. All four of the state’s House members regularly top the lists of the most conservative Republicans in Congress. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, of the sprawling 1st District, fought with his House leadership over spending and the debt limitso publicly he was kicked off the Agriculture Committee – bothering some constituents, but making him a hero to the Sean Hannity crowd.