Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts hung onto a spot on the Republican primary ballot Monday after a state board rebuffed challenges to his "sham" candidacy by supporters of tea party candidate Milton Wolf.
Eight northeast Kansas residents objected to having Roberts listed on the primary ballot, arguing he lives in the Alexandria, Va., suburb of Washington, and not Dodge City, where he's registered to vote.
Wolf, a Leawood, Kansas, radiologist, has made the issue a centerpiece of his attacks on Roberts.
"Sen. Roberts has been perpetrating a sham on the citizens of Kansas," said Chuck Henderson, a Wolf supporter who submitted one of the objections, The Kansas City Star reports.
But Roberts' lawyer, Michael Kuckelman, said the senator meets the constitutional qualifications and called criticism of Roberts' Virginia home a red herring.
“He has to have a place to lay down at night.... He's doing the job we sent him to do,” Kuckelman said. Roberts wasn't at the session.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the three Republican office holders who sit on the board — each of whom have endorsed Roberts —
recused themselves and sent proxies.
John Campbell, chief deputy attorney general standing in for Schmidt, was skeptical of Henderson's argument, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.
"Do you have any court case supporting your position?" Campbell asked Henderson.
"We do not need sophistry from case law," Henderson replied.
"Oh, please," Campbell said.
The State Objections Board ruled objections to Roberts' candidacy weren't based in law.
The decision means he'll be on the ballot in the Aug. 5 Republican primary.
The three-member board’s decision was unanimous. It didn’t discuss the case in detail in public before voting, but members are expected to spell out their reasons in a written order.
Afterward, Henderson was undaunted: He said Roberts' absence from the hearing would only help Wolf supporters make their case.
"The P.R. campaign now begins," Henderson said, the Capital-Journal reported.
One expert agreed.
“Anything that comes out of this ballot issue, even a decision saying he’s on the ballot, promotes his theme … so that’s part of his campaign. Wolf can’t lose on this,” Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty told the Star.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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