Senator Pat Roberts could probably use a pair of ruby slippers right about now. The Kansas conservative politician is under attack after an article in The New York Times reported Roberts doesn't actually live in the state he represents.
The Times article says the Dodge City house listed as Roberts' voting address "belongs to two longtime supporters and donors ... and he says he stays with them when he is in the area. ... 'I have full access to the recliner,' the senator joked."
Instead Roberts, who has been in Congress since 1981, primarily lives with his family in Alexandria, Virginia. He rents a room in the Dodge City property for $300 a month whenever he visits his home state. (Via KSHB)
Roberts' entrenched position in D.C. might work against him this election cycle, thanks to Tea Party challenger Milton Wolf. Wolf is running in the state's Republican primary on the argument that Roberts is out of touch with Kansas.
It's an argument that's worked once before in recent history. Indiana's Richard Lugar held his Senate seat for decades and was regarded as a Washington fixture — until he was ousted during a 2012 primary by a Tea Party challenger.
At the time, Fox News noted "Lugar didn't help his campaign when it came to light that he no longer owned a residence in Indiana. He instead stayed in an Indianapolis hotel when he returned to the state."
But Roberts is determined not to let history repeat itself. His office immediately fired back at the story, calling it a "hit piece" and pointing out his dedication to the state.
"This story is so far from reality that Kansans won't believe it. They know how long and hard Pat has worked for the state. They know it is his home. They see him there regularly. ... They know better."
And a writer for The American Prospect said the whole story illustrates the contradictory standards voters expect their representatives to uphold.
"On one hand, we want our members of Congress to work hard, get that nose to the grindstone, represent us there in Washington! On the other hand, we also want them not to spend too much time in Washington, so they stay 'in touch' with us."
At the end of 2013, Roberts had about $2.2 million available for his reelection campaign, compared to Wolf's current $179,000. Kansas's Republican primary is Aug. 5.