Pat Roberts: A Kansas Senator reinventing himself to win re-election

Feb 26, 2014

Pat Roberts is a three-term Republican senator from Kansas.

Senator Pat Roberts is working to renew ties in his home state reported Jonathan Martin for the New York Times.  Tea Partly influences have changed his long Washington, D.C. history to a liability, and the 77-year old senator is working to adjust his position to better his chances at re-election say his aides.

Stance modifications include: 

  • Opposing a major spending project he had sought for over at decade at his beloved alma mater, Kansas State University, because it was tied to a larger appropriations measure. 
  • Calling for the resignation of the health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, over the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act.  Sebelius is the daughter-in-law of his former boss, Representative Keith Sebelius.
  • Joining Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, early in the morning to protest the Affordable Care Act. 
  • Opposing a United Nations treaty banning discrimination against people with disabilities after being personally lobbied to support it by his predecessor, Ms. Kassebaum, and by Mr. Dole, who uses a wheelchair.  Roberts said he did not trust the United Nations.
  • Opposing the five-year, nearly $1 trillion farm bill, which was prized by leaders of the Kansas farm lobby but opposed by Tea Party activists.  Mr. Roberts, who had written an earlier version of the measure, said the final legislation included too many subsidies.

The Tea Party-versus-establishment battle is evident in Kansas.  Sam Brownback served with Roberts in the Senate until he became governor in 2010, when ousting the old guard from the State Capitol. 

“Pat’s very cognizant of what’s happened to the party,” said Mr. Brownback.  Given the changing political climate, Brownback says that Roberts is doing precisely what he needs to do to win another term. “Being active, being aggressive, being conservative,” the governor said. “He’s got to get through a Republican primary, and people are pretty fired up about what’s going on at the federal level.”

Roberts arrived in Washington in 1967, was elected to congress in 1981.  He went on to become a member of the elite Alfalfa club and the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.  He lists a red brick house on the golf course in Dodge City, Kansas, as home on his voter registration.  The house is owned by two long-time supporters and donors.  Roberts owns a home in Alexandria, Virginia.

Roberts faces tea party Republican, Milton Wolf, in the primary.  Wolf argues Roberts is out of touch with his High Plains roots.  Wolf is President Obama’s cousin. 

The rest of the article from the NYT can be found here.