Republican Charles Patrick 'Pat' Roberts

Senate
Charles Patrick 'Pat' Roberts

Birthdate: April 20, 1936
Birth Place: Topeka, KS, United States
Residence: Dodge City, KS
Religion: Methodist
First Elected: 1996
Gender: Male

Candidacy

Party: Republican
State: Kansas
Office: Senate

Education

Undergraduate: Kansas State University

Degree: BA

Pat Roberts was born in Topeka, Kan., and currently resides in Dodge City. He earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kansas State University.

His father, Wes, was chairman of the Republican National Committee under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Roberts served four years in the Marine Corps before becoming the publisher of an Arizona newspaper. He embarked on a lengthy career as a congressional aide in 1967.

He was working for then-U.S. Rep. Keith Sebelius in 1980, when Sebelius decided not to seek re-election. Roberts won election to replace Sebelius and was re-elected seven times.

Roberts won election to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and he now has what's considered a safe seat.

Roberts and his wife, Franki, have three children.

Profile

Pat Roberts is known for both his sometimes-slashing wit and his ability to appeal to all parts of the Republican Party, something that makes his planned re-election in 2014 seem like a pretty sure bet. Roberts will be seeking a fourth term in the Senate even though he'll be 78.

He's been part of the political scene in Kansas and in Washington for more than four decades, having worked as a congressional aide before serving in both the House and Senate. Like other members of the state's all-Republican delegation, he's a reliable and strong critic of Democratic President Barack Obama's policies, including his 2009 approximately $800 billion economic stimulus package and the 2010 health care reform bill.

He called the June 2012 Supreme Court decision upholding the health care legislation deeply disappointing. "It's now up to the Congress to repeal and replace this law with step by step, common-sense, cost-cutting solutions that work for Kansans and all Americans and that's what I will work to do in the Senate. There is no question today's decision is a real setback for America and will make our work that much harder," he said.

As the senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Roberts is a veteran in the crafting of many farm bills. In February 2012, as the committee started work on a new farm bill, he said his constituents aren't asking about farm subsidies as much as they used to. He says he gets more questions about government regulations that farmers see as burdensome.

After a contentious lunch with GOP senators in June 2010, Roberts called Obama "pretty thin-skinned."

"He needs to take a Valium before he comes in and talks to Republicans," Roberts told reporters.

Roberts has developed a reputation in Kansas for being able to secure federal dollars for the state, including highway improvements, flood-control projects and a new Command and General Staff College center at Fort Leavenworth.

He had lobbied the Air Force to give Boeing Co. a $35 billion contract to build giant airborne refueling tankers, with Kansas and Washington state expected to get the bulk of the work. When the Air Force announced in February 2011 that it had, in fact, chosen Boeing, Roberts said, "I'm in the middle of a blizzard but it's all blue skies." However, Boeing announced in January 2012 that it was closing its Wichita plant.

Roberts also played a leading role in bringing the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to Kansas State University, which will replace an aging lab on Plum Island, N.Y.

After the National Research Council issued a report in July 2012 saying the United States would have adequate biosecurity protections even if plans for the proposed $1.14 billion lab in Kansas were scaled back, Roberts joined with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kanas in calling on the Department of Homeland Security to move forward with acquiring the land in Manhattan and beginning construction.

Roberts took some of the credit for the Pentagon's decision in 2005 to return the Army's 1st Infantry Division to Fort Riley, providing thousands of new jobs in the state.

He's also become a key player in Congress on agriculture issues, serving as the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. He was House Agriculture Committee chairman before he started serving in the Senate in 1997.

He once had one of the toughest jobs on Capitol Hill, serving four years as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But he left that politically volatile post in 2006, just weeks after public discontent over the war in Iraq swept Democrats back to power in Congress.

He said he didn't make the switch to the Senate Finance Committee for political reasons, but he later conceded how unnerving it was to watch six of his GOP colleagues lose their seats in 2006.

Roberts presided as Intelligence chairman over intensely political hearings about prewar intelligence on Iraq.

His chairmanship became an issue late in his 2008 re-election race, when Democrat Jim Slattery suggested during a debate that had Roberts been more forthright publicly about the lack of a link between Iraq and Sept. 11, the United States might not have gone to war. Roberts called the statement irresponsible, and he won the race with 60 percent of the vote.

Roberts is a plainspoken former Marine who has an acerbic wit that's made him sought after as a Sunday news show guest but has also gotten him into trouble.

During Roberts' 1996 campaign he referred to his opponent as a "bitch" in front of Kansas City Star reporters who had just met with both candidates.

Roberts served as an aide to U.S. Rep. Keith Sebelius, a Republican who represented western Kansas, for 13 years before running for the retiring Sebelius' seat in 1980. He served 16 years in the House before winning his Senate seat in 1996, replacing the popular retiring Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker.

While he was serving in the House, his vision of a market-based farm economy became the 1996 Freedom to Farm Bill. It ended a Depression-era system of production controls and was supposed to bring some control to farm spending and discourage overproduction of surplus crops.

But Asian markets collapsed and the U.S. farm economy took a dive just as the new law took effect. In 2002, with Democrats in control of the Senate, Congress repudiated Roberts' changes.

Source: Associated Press

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