This morning I note that the GOP has an excellent chance to take the center, provide it doesn’t come up with “wacky, unvetted candidates who emulate the faction of the GOP voters dislike the most.” If Matt Bevin, government shutdown and once TARP supporter, is Exhibit A, then Milton Wolf, a far right-winger who is a cousin of the president, backed by the usual cast of far-right groups is Exhibit B.
Mother Jones finds it easy, as will other publications, to uncover a raft of extreme language. “He has equated President Barack Obama’s treatment of successful Americans to Hitler’s treatment of Jews and gypsies. He has compared Obama to a ‘less despotic’ Benito Mussolini. . . . [H]e sketched out similarities between Soviet Russia, the Castros’ Cuba, and modern-day America: ‘Enforcement of collectivism has always depended on government power, from Stalin’s iron-fisted gulags to Mr. Obama’s mere heavy-handed plan for punitive fines for failure to purchase your government-imposed health insurance.’”
This sounds like a potential Todd Akin 2.0. Nevertheless, this is one of the prime races and the hyped candidates on which far-right groups are showering hundreds of thousands of dollars. No wonder Wolf has been able to raise a tiny amount of money and in one poll trails by 44 points.
Sen. Pat Roberts’ spokesman Leroy Towns tells Right Turn, “This extremism exhibited by Milton Wolf is one big reason he has little support in Kansas. His statements reported in Mother Jones are far outside the mainstream of conservative Kansas Republicans, and such comments have no place in any political conversation.” As for the primary this summer he says, “We are confident Republicans will soundly reject him in the August primary.”
The problem is not merely Kansas, which might in the long run stick with a Republican, even an extreme one, but the party as a whole. Akin became a household word and the focus of the Democratic National Convention in 2012, helping to pump up the Democratic base and demoralize Republicans.
A GOP insider, exasperated with the frequency of loony right-wing candidates, is blunt. He e-mails me, “Groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund don’t do their homework or research their candidates, which maximizes the risk for their donors and hurts the conservative cause.” He cautions, “Failure to research and vet candidates hands winnable seats to Democrats.”
The good news is that Roberts is likable and solidly conservative. He’s rated the fifth most conservative member by Heritage Action and the eighth most conservative by National Journal. What he is not, however, is a rhetorical firebrand who suggests the party leap into the abyss time and time again. So Kansas Republicans have a clear choice. Republicans around the country better hope they get it right, or they’ll be spending a lot of time running from Wolf.
UPDATE: A Republican operative traveling in Kansas e-mails in response to this post: “I was struck at how little support Wolf had even among folks who were clearly very conservative. They really didn’t know anything about him and they didn’t like how outside groups were attacking Pat Roberts. I actually heard several times unprompted, ‘How the hell does the New York Times and these DC groups expect us to believe that Pat Roberts isn’t really a Kansan?’”