U.S. Senate campaign of Tea Party candidate raises big concerns
By John Altevogt | Metro Voice
Twenty years ago Eudora insurance agent David Miller started the revolution that today dominates the Kansas political landscape. He was joined by Tim Golba, Kansans for Life’s leader; Mike Welton, who organized the Christian Coalition in Kansas; and a youthful Kris Van Meteren who would later take the movement to another level by transforming the Kansas Republican Assembly into a dominant force.
Today, the Kansas Republican Assembly is the Kansas Republican Party and Van Meteren is a political consultant of national stature. Every statewide office in Kansas is held by a Republican, most of them conservative. Some, like Governor Brownback and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, have national reputations. The state legislature is dominated by conservatives in both houses, after a brutal primary season in 2012 when most of the remaining “country clubers” were swept out of office. The Congressional delegation is also, by every objective standard, the most conservative in the nation. The most conservative of that bunch are Tim Huelskamp in the House and Pat Roberts in the Senate.
This is why Milton Wolf hasn’t been embraced in Kansas in the same way that Tea Party candidates in other states have been received. Kansas conservatives have no need for any outside group to come in and rescue them from “the establishment”, because they are the establishment.
Kansas conservatives have not been bashful opposing sitting Republicans in their primaries, witness 2012. If there was a fervor to replace Roberts, Huelskamp or Kris Kobach would have been the logical choices to oppose him.
As a candidate, Wolf is virtually unknown in political circles even in Johnson County. There was no record of involvement with local candidates and he reportedly rebuffed suggestions that he run for lower office to gain experience. Indeed, his sole claim to fame is his relationship as a shirttail cousin to President Obama which he managed to parlay into a column in the Washington Times.
The response to Wolf’s candidacy has been immediate and overwhelming as Roberts was almost universally endorsed by Kansas conservatives including the Congressional delegation and Governor. Most of the state’s conservative legislators also supported Roberts as did the state’s leading pro-life and 2nd Amendment groups. Wolf has been endorsed by talk show host Mark Levin, a California based Tea Party group, a couple of state legislators and the Senate Conservatives Fund.
Absent a legislative record, observers looked for indicators to assess Wolf’s character and the authenticity of his message. That process has not been kind to Wolf. While both he and his wife’s Facebook pages were scrubbed in anticipation of the run, a collection of gruesome x-rays from Wolf’s Facebook page soon surfaced in an article in the Topeka Capital-Journal along with his comments that were described as “macabre jokes and descriptions of carnage.”
The Topeka Capitol-Journal article contained quotes from John Carney, president of the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Mo. and Jerry Slaughter, executive director of the Kansas Medical Society. Carney indicated that x-rays used in this manner would be viewed as “beyond alarming for a professional in the field of medicine” while Slaughter stated that “Absent any legitimate educational purpose or context, this is not ethical behavior.”
Wolf’s responses were bizarre to say the least. Despite his frivolous and demeaning comments about the x-rays, he argued they were uploaded to Facebook for educational purposes. That was his most rational explanation. In an article in Breitbart News Wolf admitted joking about the x-rays, but suggested that all jokes are “at someone else’s pain.” However his most illogical and bizarre comment came in response to remarks from the Roberts campaign concerning the revelations when he stated that their “character attack” on him would “through its implications, cast a wider net to vilify all doctors.” Since then, responses that equate criticisms of Wolf and his supporters to a broader attack on some other universal group appear to have become the norm for his campaign. Indeed, the embrace of victimhood has become a cornerstone of his campaign. All one hears from his supporters is the constant drumbeat that he is the victim of “the establishment” and the “Republican old guard”.
If Wolf is a victim of anything it is his own attempts to constrain his own reality, whatever that may be, into the narrow clichÃ©s of niche politics. For instance, one of Wolf’s basic critiques is Roberts’ votes on the debt ceiling and yet when reporter Andy Marso questioned Wolf about that issue he had nothing to say. Another cornerstone of the campaign is his alleged opposition to Obamacare and yet in 2009, when opposition from the medical community might have been productive one finds no evidence that he was anywhere to be found, according to longtime movement conservative Ben Hodge.
Indeed, his entire persona seems to have been generated solely for the purposes of the campaign, according to yet another devastating article from Tim Carpenter. On the stump, Wolf implies that he was audited by the IRS for his political beliefs. It didn’t happen. He also implies that the Obama administration tried to have him fired, from what job we’re not sure, but again that claim also fails under scrutiny. Also damaging to Wolf’s ideological claims are the revelations from Anne Hodgdon, a Republican activist and member of the influential Hodgdon Powder family. Hodgdon also believes that Wolf is a candidate in a box; i.e., a manufactured persona. As evidence, she points to Wolf’s claims to be a “Christian conservative” and a firearms aficionado. According to Hodgdon, while Wolf approaches his stump speeches with the religious fervor of a televangelist, neither of the Wolfs’ Facebook pages, prior to being scrubbed, made any mention of religion, nor has she ever heard them show any indication of religious proclivities. Indeed, she claims that Karrie Wolf’s page was devoted more to pictures of the many parties at their house than anything.
As for Wolf’s 2nd Amendment credentials, Hodgdon points out that Wolf took a beginner’s class in January of 2013 and then asked her to help select a “big black scary gun” which he took possession of in April of 2013. His CCH is also from 2013. Yet Wolf insinuates that he is a longtime gun aficionado by stating that he is a lifetime member of the NRA. The truth is that anyone can become a “lifetime” member of the NRA by paying more for their membership.
Absent a legislative record one must examine the credibility and authenticity of a candidate’s statements and examine whatever insights one can acquire regarding their character. Thus far Dr. Wolf has been involved in one major scandal and two minor ones. Those who researched his comments, claims and policy statements with the goal of digging deeper have found that the authentic Milton Wolf was apparently scrubbed with his Facebook page. The relationship between that persona and candidate Wolf seems to be as distant as the one he shares with his cousin. Drink the Kool-Aid if you must, but I find no evidence that your trust will be rewarded.
–In full disclosure, I support Sen. Roberts. This is more an explanation to observers of the current Kansas Senate primary why Roberts has been overwhelmingly endorsed while Dr. Milton Wolf has just as overwhelmingly been rejected than an impartial analysis. My belief is that we, as Christian conservatives, must provide candidates that are superior to our opponents, or we are wasting our time. This column was written with that conviction uppermost in mind