He started as a congressional staffer in 1967, became a congressman himself in 1981, and moved up to the Senate in 1997. He’s been on the Hill since before man went to the moon. And every now and then, it shows:
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts stoked the political brushfire he was hoping to smother during a recent Kansas City-area radio morning show.
“Every time I get an opponent — uh, I mean, every time I get a chance — I’m home,” Roberts said during the KCMO interview.
As of February, he no longer owned a house in the state he purports to represent. And now, having turned 78 three months ago, he’s decided that retirement can wait another six years. National Journal sounds amazed that conservatives in Kansas seem more irritated by Roberts’s hold on power than by any ideological sins he’s committed, but I don’t know why. Careerism is usually an enemy of good government. If someone needs to be made an example of in the name of punishing careerism and cleaning house in Washington, oh well. In fact, Roberts and Lamar Alexander are the only two incumbents left in this cycle. If they both survive, it’ll be the first time since 2008 that no GOP senators have been bounced in a primary.
Depending upon whom you believe, Milton Wolf’s within nine points of Roberts or 14 points or maybe 20 points, although everyone seems to agree that he’s gained ground in the last few weeks as Republican voters make up their minds. Alexander’s probably more vulnerable than Roberts is, but the rap on Roberts is the same one that sunk Eric Cantor — he became too much a creature of the Beltway and too remote from his constituents back home. Don’t get your hopes up tonight but don’t tune out of the race either. Anything’s possible in a post-Cantor world. The polls close in Kansas at 8 p.m. ET; as usual, RCP, Politico, and Ace’s Decision Desk (which, as I recall, called the Cantor race before any big media outlet did) will have live results.
One other race to keep an eye on is the GOP primary in Michigan’s 3rd District. Justin Amash, who wants the NSA defunded and who supported the shutdown to defund ObamaCare, is an establishment bete noire. Groups like the Chamber of Commerce seemed eager to knock him off earlier this year and claim a big-name tea-party scalp for once. It looks like that’s going to fizzle, though. His opponent never got traction and Amash is expected to win easily. If Roberts pulls through, one consolation for righties will be that the Boehner wing of the party didn’t manage to hit one of their big targets either. The polls in Michigan close at 8 p.m. ET.