U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas urged Kansas tea party supporters Thursday to re-elect Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, warning that staying home would empower Democrats in a race that could help decide control of the U.S. Senate.
Cruz appeared with Roberts and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn in Wichita, helping to kick off a four-day bus tour with stops in 11 eastern Kansas communities. Cruz’s visit comes two weeks after a similar campaign event with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
“I promise you there is nobody more frustrated with Washington, D.C., than I am,” Cruz told the crowd of about 100. “But let me urge you, if you are frustrated with Washington, the answer is not to stay home and keep (Democratic Majority Leader) Harry Reid. If you are frustrated with Washington, the answer is not to empower the liberal Democrats.”
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Roberts, a three-term senator, faces a tough race against independent candidate Greg Orman after the Democratic candidate dropped out of the race. Orman is running as a centrist, pledging to break partisan gridlock.
Orman’s campaign did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
Republicans are trying to woo tea party voters after Roberts emerged from a tough GOP primary in August looking vulnerable. He received just 48 percent of the vote in the primary race against tea party-backed challenger Milton Wolf and two lesser-known candidates. Wolf has not endorsed any candidate in the Senate race.
“That is a good, healthy thing,” Cruz said of the primary battle. “It is the way the democratic process is supposed to work, but that primary is over.”