Dr. Milton Wolf wants to be the tea party’s next success story.
Wolf, who is President Obama’s second cousin, is challenging Sen. Pat Roberts in the Kansas GOP Senate primary, the latest intraparty Republican skirmish of the election cycle.
To take down Roberts, Wolf, 43, hopes to capitalize on the same vein of anti-incumbent sentiment that led to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary loss. Both candidates have faced controversy.
For Roberts, 78, the three-term senator who has worked in Washington for more than 40 years, it was the revelation, first reported by The New York Times, that he doesn’t keep a house in his home state, and instead stays with donors and lists their home as his voting address.
Wolf, a radiologist, is under investigation by a state medical board after the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that he had posted a number of anonymous X-ray images of traumatic injuries to Facebook, and joked about them with friends. (The Capital-Journal also broke the story of the investigation.)
ABC News recently spoke to Wolf about the race, his family and why there should be more doctors in Congress. The following is a Q&A, edited for brevity.
You're related to the president.
I didn’t know that Barack Obama and I were related until 2008. Then-Senator Obama had described in some news account his great uncle Charlie Payne, who had served in World War II. My mother was reading the article in shock, because he was describing her Uncle Charlie!
She and Stanley Ann [Dunham, Obama’s mother] grew up together in Wichita as young girls, but they had lost touch. My mom knew that she had a son, and she kind of put two-and-two together. So they met on a few occasions.
He invited me and my family to meet in 2010 [in Kansas City, Missouri]. There was both family and political talk, but I’ll keep that in confidence. By this point he’s already the president and I’m already his fiercest critic. They call me the arch-nemesis of Obamacare!
You needed training and experience to serve as a doctor. Why is experience a problem when it comes to politics?
I’ve heard the argument that Pat Roberts’s seniority is desired but, in reality, he’s been in Washington for 47 years. He’s had seniority for a quarter of a century! What do we have to show for it? When will this investment in Roberts start paying off?
I agree with what Dr. Ben Carson said: We need more doctors and engineers in Congress than lawyers and politicians. Doctors and engineers are problem solvers by trade, and politicians and lawyers win arguments for a living.
Look at the difference between Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Pat Roberts. Ted Cruz understands something that Pat Roberts never quite figured out: A senator should have something far more powerful than a vote. He should have a voice, and he should use it fearlessly.
Isn’t Sen. Cruz a lawyer?
He is, but he understands communication. And he’s reaching out to people, and he’s enlisting them in a movement. Politicians tend to be scared of voters just as soon as they see the whites of their eyes, especially when they see the pitchforks in their hands. But we need to reach out to people and communicate conservatism and explain why it’s not just effective but compassionate.