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Former GOP Congressman Ryun heads group backing Wolf
A group headed by former Kansas Congressman Jim Ryun is making automated phone calls, or "robocalls," to Republican voters endorsing Milton Wolf in the upcoming Republican Senate primary, opposing one of his former congressional colleagues, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.
Ryun, who served five terms in the U.S. House, is now director of the Washington-based Madison Project, a conservative group founded in 1994 whose political action committee backs new pro-life candidates. His son, Drew Ryun, a former deputy director of the Republican National Committee, serves as the group's political director.
According to Federal Election Commission data, the group reported making $6,200 worth of independent expenditures this month on behalf of Roberts' Tea Party-backed challenger, Milton Wolf.
“On a daily basis, this administration is fundamentally transforming our country for the worse, yet Pat Roberts has failed to stand for Kansas’s conservative values in any meaningful way,” Drew Ryun said in a press release. “Sure, Roberts tends to vote more conservative and move back to Kansas ‘every time he has an opponent,’ but we need someone who will fight every day of every year for Kansas."
Ryun was elected to the 2nd District House seat in 1996, the same year Roberts was first elected to the Senate. Before that, Roberts had represented the 1st District of western Kansas for 18 years. Ryun lost his bid for a sixth term in 2006 when he was defeated by Democrat Nancy Boyda. He tried to reclaim the seat in 2008 but lost the GOP primary to Lynn Jenkins, who went on to defeat Boyda and who now holds the seat.
Roberts' campaign manager, Leroy Towns, noted that Roberts had previously supported Ryun in his congressional campaigns. He also said Roberts and Ryun had very similar voting records when they served together in Congress.
"In Kansas, I think a call from Jim Ryun is not going to be received with any great enthusiasm," Towns said. "He didn't take care of his district and lost his seat. Republicans aren't very happy about that to this day."
In recent weeks, so-called "establishment" Republican groups have harshly criticized the Madison Project and other Tea Party-affiliated groups for spending more money on their own salaries and lavish offices than on direct support for candidates.
According to a recent article in The Hill, a Washington-based political news site, the Madison project spent $1.8 million during the 2012 election cycle, but only $97,500 of that was donated to candidates. That was less than the combined salaries of Ryun and his son.