Opinion

Republican senator facing Tea Party challenger doesn't live in his 'home' state

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Tea Party,Kansas,Pat Roberts

A Republican senator facing a Tea Party challenger this year revealed that he doesn't live in his home state, an admission likely to fuel an opposition that has already accused him of going native in the nation's capitol.

“I have full access to the recliner,” Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told the New York Times, referring to the fact that the Kansas residence he listed as his voting address actually belongs to two donors.

"He established his voting address there the day before his challenger, Milton Wolf, announced his candidacy last fall, arguing that Mr. Roberts was out of touch with his High Plains roots," the Times' Jonathan Martin explained.

That plays to the strength of his opponents. “Sen. Roberts has done some good things, but after more than 20 years in Washington it's time for a change,” Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins said to explain his group's opposition to Roberts. Another organization endorsing Wolf, the Madison Project, described Roberts as "the quintessential career politician."

Former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., learned in 2012 how damaging it is for a senator not to live in the state he represents, as State Treasurer Richard Mourdock defeated him in a primary.

"Lugar successfully argued that Indiana's constitution only required him to maintain a physical residence in the state during his first campaign," CNN noted in a post-mortem on Lugar's race. "Politically, however, the damage was done. At one point, Lugar admitted he wasn't even sure what address was on his Indiana driver's license."

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