GOP committee boosts Roberts over Wolf in Kansas Senate race

07/31/2014 7:05 AM

07/31/2014 7:07 AM

TOPEKA – A national Republican group has contributed $45,400 to Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts in his GOP primary race against tea party challenger Milton Wolf, a boost for the incumbent’s sizeable and consistent lead in fundraising.

Recent finance reports filed by the campaigns show that Roberts has raised more than $200,000 so far this month. But Wolf, a Leawood radiologist making his first run for public office, raised more than $120,000 in contributions this month and also loaned his campaign an additional $20,000.

Roberts is seeking this fourth, six-year term and has enjoyed a significant fundraising advantage ahead of the Aug. 5 primary, raising about $3.4 million since the beginning of last year. Wolf, who formally entered the race in October, also saw his total contributions top $1 million this month.

The biggest recent financial boost to Roberts’ campaign came from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the arm of the GOP set up to help the party win Senate seats. The committee is led by fellow Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, and it contributed its $45,400 on July 24, according to a report filed by Roberts’ campaign.

“I am the only candidate in this race – in this primary – that can win in November,” Roberts told reporters during a campaign stop Wednesday in Emporia. “I think people are getting that.”

Two lesser-known candidates also are seeking the Republican nomination. Two Democrats, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor and Lawrence attorney Patrick Wiesner, are vying for the party’s nomination. Greg Orman, an Olathe businessman, is running as an independent candidate.

Wolf rejects arguments that if he is the GOP nominee, the party will have a harder time retaining what has been seen as a safe Republican seat.

He’s criticized the national Republican group and Moran publicly for investing GOP donors’ funds to help incumbents, such as Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, fend off challengers from the right.

“The Republican Party has a legitimate chance to retake a Senate majority, yet the NRSC has burned through a tremendous amount of their resources in the primary,” Wolf campaign manager Ben Hartman said Wednesday night in an email.

Wolf had previously loaned his campaign $30,000, so his latest contribution boosts the total to $50,000. His campaign reported spending more than $319,000 from July 1 to July 16 and ended that period with less than $95,000 in cash, including his latest loan.

Roberts spent more than $633,000 during the same period and entered the final three weeks of the campaign with nearly $1.45 million in cash on hand. There are no reports on spending and cash on hand after July 16, only contributions.

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