TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts raised more than twice as much money as his Republican primary challenger during the last three months of 2013, and contributions from political action committees were a key reason, campaign finance reports show.
The three-term incumbent's advantage with PACs led GOP rival Dr. Milton Wolf's campaign to label him "PAC-Man Pat" in the headline of a statement Wednesday. A Roberts spokesman described Wolf's fundraising as "paltry."
Roberts' re-election campaign said in its most recent finance report that it received net contributions of $613,912 from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. Wolf's latest report showed net contributions of $238,031 and disclosed that the challenger loaned his campaign an additional $30,000.
But Roberts' re-election campaign disclosed receiving $291,963 from non-party committees, compared with only $15,000 for Wolf.
And incumbency helped Roberts in another key way that boosts his chances for re-election. He began 2013 with $886,894 already in his treasury, and he increased that total to more than $2.24 million by year's end. Roberts' cash on hand was more than 12 times as much as the $179,233 Wolf reported at the end of last year.
Roberts began this year with sufficient funds to run a strong, statewide re-election campaign in Kansas. Hartman said Wolf will run "a lean operation," but the challenger still has significant fundraising ahead unless he loans his campaign larger sums.
Roberts was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996; his career in politics has spanned 47 years, and he enjoys the support of anti-abortion and gun rights groups that are key GOP constituencies in Kansas. Wolf, a Leawood radiologist, is running as a tea party candidate. The primary is Aug. 5.
"It doesn't really come as a surprise that Roberts is extending his hand to his fellow Washington insiders in his quest to recast himself as a conservative in an election year," Wolf spokesman Ben Hartman said.
But Leroy Towns, the senator's executive campaign manager, said Roberts' ability to raise money shows he has strong support across the state, including among conservatives. Towns dismissed the criticism from Wolf's campaign about PAC contributions.
"His complaints about that would seem to me to be sort of sour grapes," Towns said.
Wolf's campaign reported contributions from individuals totaling $215,647, with Wolf himself chipping in $7,474, aside from his loan. Roberts' campaign disclosed contributions from individuals totaling nearly $318,949.
Hartman said when only individuals' contributions are considered, "The money difference closes considerably."
But Towns noted that the Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, says on its website that as of early January, its members had donated $78,506 to Wolf.
"That makes his own fundraising effort look even more paltry," Towns said.
Roberts re-election campaign: http://www.robertsforsenate.com/
Wolf campaign: http://www.miltonwolf.com/
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