President Barack Obama’s second cousin has confirmed to The Daily Caller that he will challenge Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas in the 2014 primary.
Speculation that Dr. Milton Wolf, a diagnostic radiologist aligned with the tea party, would challenge the 77-year-old Roberts from the right has been rising in recent weeks, after Wolf sent emails to GOP activists inviting them to contact him. On Monday night, Wolf’s blog promised a major announcement Tuesday.
“I really am concerned about our country, the direction our country is going,” Wolf told The Daily Caller Monday. “The reality is that the career politicians of both parties have failed us. That much is clear and you look around and you think, ‘Somebody has gotta do something,’ and I keep looking for somebody to do something, and no one is. I realized at one point that I’m somebody. I gotta do something. If I want to call myself an American, if I want to think of myself as a patriot, I have to step up.”
Roberts is the longest-serving member of the Kansas delegation, with a congressional career that began in 1981 as representative for the First District of Kansas. He joined the Senate in 1997. Roberts has served on the House Committee for Agriculture and the Senate Select Committees for Ethics and also Intelligence.
Wolf argues that his tenure has become a liability.
“The reality is that whenever the Democrats have needed Republican votes to pass their agenda of growing government, they know that they have been able to count on Pat Roberts,” Wolf told TheDC. “Tax increases, debt ceiling increases, expanding government healthcare… There are some people in this world who are stuck playing checkers when everyone else has moved on to chess. America is in trouble; we have moved on to three-dimensional chess and we are still looking at somebody who is voting for tax increases , voting for debt ceiling increases, voting for increased food-stamp spending, for increased regulations. I don’t know that America can survive that much longer.”
The Shawnee-based physician stressed that he is motivated by his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the Congress that allowed it to become law.
“My first goal is to save the Republican party from itself,” Wolf told TheDC. “My second goal is to save America from the Democrats. I love my party and have been loyal to it and it’s more difficult when my party is no longer to the ideals it proclaims… I oppose Obamacare not just because it is an economic disaster — it is an economic disaster — I oppose Obamacare because it is immoral. It is immoral for a government to get in between a doctor and a patient. It is immoral for a government to even know about a doctor-patient relationship. It is immoral for a government to decide who shall live and who shall die. And that’s what government health care does.”
Wolf, an admirer of conservative Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, had sharp words for the GOP and its contribution to the federal debt.
“The Republican Party has this mindset that you should get in line and that you should bow to whoever is in charge and you should ask their permission and you should go along to get along,” he said. “But where has that got us? I can give you 17 trillion reasons why that has been a failure, and it’s our party that did that.”
Wolf has steadily been building his public profile with appearances on Fox News and columns for the Washington Times. He also spoke at the Red State conference this summer, which many saw as a nod to a prospective run for federal office.
Wolf has his work cut out for him. In both 2010 and 2012, inexperienced non-establishment challengers defeated established GOP candidates in the primaries, only to crash spectacularly against Democrats in the general elections. This was the case with Richard Mourdock, who demolished six-term Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar in the 2012 primary, then lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly.
Wolf is also facing a fairly popular incumbent. A recent Huffington Post article on his potential candidacy quoted GOP leaders lining up solidly behind Roberts and giving very poor odds for a Wolf win.
When pushed about the wisdom of his insurgent candidacy, Wolf hit back.
“I know that career politicians like to talk about their experience, that somehow magically they are the only person in the universe that can do this,” he said. “But where has that gotten us? By what metric can we say that the career politicians have been successful? By our standing in the world? By our economy today? By our debt? By our spending? By our taxes? By our regulations? By what measure? I live in a different world than these politicians. I live in a world where we are actually judged by our results not by our intentions… I was told in medical school that M.D. doesn’t stand for ‘medical doctor’ it stands for ‘make decisions.’ And that’s what you have to do.”
Wolf has previously appeared in video op-eds for The Daily Caller.