Establishment conservatives look to beat down the latest tea party upstart as three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts faces a challenge from Milton Wolf in Tuesday’s primary in Kansas, one of four states kicking off a busy month of contests to settle the ballots for November’s midterm elections.
The GOP establishment blames the tea party for costing it Senate control in 2010 and 2012 as outside candidates stumbled in the general election. Republicans need to gain six seats to regain the Senate, and the party has taken no chances this election cycle, putting its full force behind incumbents and mainstream candidates.
Tuesday offered competitive primaries in Michigan, Missouri and Washington state. The four-state primary day launches a crowded stretch with Tennessee on Thursday, Hawaii on Saturday and Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin next week.
So far this year, the Senate’s establishment is on a roll, with incumbents already prevailing in Texas, Kentucky, South Carolina and Mississippi, though it took six-term Sen. Thad Cochran two tries before defeating Chris McDaniel, who is challenging the outcome.