Largely overlooked in the race was the fact that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is chaired by Roberts’ Kansas colleague, Sen. Jerry Moran, whom some far-right activists have threatened with a 2016 primary challenge. That made a win for the incumbent even more personal.
The party made a strategic decision to focus on turning out supporters in Wolf’s home base. Wolf lives and works in Johnson County, in the suburbs of Kansas City, and he needed a healthy margin there to offset Roberts’ strength in the sprawling 1st Congressional District on the western side of the state, which he represented in the House for 16 years.
The NRSC sent six workers to the Kansas City area for the final 10 days, and they knocked on more than 10,000 doors in Johnson County alone, a party official said. A Washington phone bank set up by the NRSC also made more than 40,000 phone calls in the final three weeks.
Ultimately, Roberts fought Wolf to a virtual tie in Johnson County. Wolf took 45.7 percent to Roberts’ 45.4 percent, a 147-vote edge.
Roberts said in his victory speech that his campaign reached more than 200,000 GOP households in the state through live telephone calls and door knocks, most multiple times, over the final three weeks.
The NRSC also sent its regional political director, Brittany Belt, into Kansas for the final three weeks before the primary; she focused on the early vote and worked with the campaign on messaging in the final weeks.