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Obama Has A Tea Party Cousin — And He's Running For Senate

Another member of the Obama family wants to come to Washington. But don't expect the president to campaign for him.

Milton Wolf, a distant cousin of President Obama's, announced Tuesday he will run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, challenging three-term Sen. Pat Roberts in the Republican primary.

There's some political distance between Wolf and his cousin in the White House, to put it mildly.

An outspoken critic of the president's health care law, Wolf writes a conservative column for the Washington Times and has made several appearances on Fox News.

"Most of you know that President Barack Obama and I are cousins," Wolf said in a speech. "Like I've said before, you cannot choose your family but you can choose to rise up and stop your family from destroying America."

Wolf, a 42-year-old Leawood, Kan., radiologist, writes on his personal website that Obama's grandmother was his mother's cousin, meaning Obama and Wolf are second cousins once removed. He adds that their mothers were childhood friends in Wichita.

In his campaign announcement, Wolf pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act and "to never cast a vote that funds any portion of this terrible law." He also said he opposes any increases to the debt ceiling, positions that would plant him firmly with the Tea Party wing of the GOP Obama is currently grappling with in Washington.

Roberts, whose father was a Republican National Committee chairman under President Dwight Eisenhower, has spent decades in Kansas politics. He served 16 years in the House before moving to the Senate — and didn't face a serious primary challenge in his previous two elections. He had more than $1.5 million in his campaign account at the end of June.

The Roberts campaign released a statement last night touting the high ratings the senator has received from conservative groups like Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity and the National Rifle Association.

But the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has targeted Republicans it views as insufficiently conservative, signaled last month that Roberts will need to watch his right flank. The group's director noted to Politico that Roberts has voted to raise the debt ceiling in the past and to confirm Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who is responsible for implementing the Affordable Care Act.

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Adam Wollner