Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is struggling to combat criticism from opponents who say he shouldn't represent a state where he no longer lives permanently.
Roberts, who owns a property in Dodge City that he currently rents out, didn’t help that perception with a verbal slip-up during an interview with KCMO radio. “Every time I get an opponent – I mean, every time I get a chance, I’m home,” Roberts said in the interview. “I don’t measure my record with regards as a senator as how many times I sleep wherever it is.”
The comment was highlighted by Roberts’ primary opponent, Milton Wolf, who called it “a slap in the face to Kansans.”
Roberts was pressed several times by host Greg Knapp on why he no longer lives in Kansas. He initially answered by detailing his deep roots in the state and noting that the state election board has ruled him eligible as a candidate for re-election despite having a home in Virginia.
“I don’t measure my competency or my record or the results – and I do get results – on where I put my head on a pillow,” he said.
Here's more of the transcript:
Knapp: What we’re asking is why don’t you live here now though?
Roberts: Well I own a home in Dodge City, I have a residence there in Dodge City, I pay taxes there and I vote there
Knapp: Right but you don’t, you’re not answering the question. Why don’t you LIVE here though?
Rpoberts: Well, when you live here, it isn’t where you are. I don’t measure my competency or my record or the results – and I do get results – on where I put my head on a pillow. There reason that -- I’ve always been in Dodge City. I’ve rented, I’ve owned and I’ve rented and I’ve owned, we bought a unit there some time ago, probably 30 years ago. It’s open sometimes and then sometimes there is a renter. There’s a captain in the army who wanted a place and said nothing was available, so we rented it. At any rate, That’s the case, so we simply went with our friends …
Knapp: No, I understand that, I’m just saying that the average person says if you’re a representative of the state, you would live in the state more than you would live in DC if the last 11 years the Senate’s been in session an average of 162 days, that means 203 days you’re not, and you would think the person would spend more time in their state than in the district. And that’s just you know something that the average person is asking, that’s all.
Roberts: Well I think that everybody should understand that if you’re in Dodge City and you stay in Dodge City, it’s a very difficult task to get around all over the state. You know, you could move to Topeka, you could move to Kansas City, you could move to where Milton is which is two blocks from Missouri. You know, we had declared Dodge our residency, our kids went to school there. Every time I get an opponent – I mean, every time I get a chance, I’m home. I don’t measure my, what, my record with regards as a senator as how many times I sleep wherever it is.
The primary election is August 5.