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Conservative group endorses Kansas challenger

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A hard-right conservative group led by former Kansas Rep. Jim Ryun is endorsing a Republican who is trying to oust three-term GOP Sen. Pat Roberts.

The Madison Project said Thursday that it was backing Dr. Milton Wolf over Roberts, the blunt-spoken conservative who was elected to the Senate in 1996 after eight terms in the House and has never gotten less than 60 percent of the vote in his heartland state. The organization, which has backed challengers to Republican incumbents in Kentucky and Mississippi, said Wolf will provide the necessary leadership.

"Even though he has never held public office, Dr. Wolf has exhibited a command of the issues and a dedication to conservative values that is lacking among most individuals in Washington," Ryun, chairman of the Madison Project, said in a statement. "Sen. Roberts has served admirably for a number of decades, but if we ever hope to rebuild the Senate majority on a solid conservative foundation, we need fewer career politicians and more citizen leaders like Milton Wolf."

The Associated Press learned of the endorsement ahead of the formal announcement.

Wolf, a distant cousin of President Barack Obama, is a physician and tea party-backed candidate who has been outspoken in his opposition to the health care law.

Wolf will be "one of the U.S. Senate's loudest voices against Obamacare," said Ryun, who served in the House from 1996 to 2007.

Roberts has been a solid Republican vote and has pressed for business in his home state, including Boeing work. He has worked with Democrats on some issues.

The Madison Project faulted Roberts for backing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a former governor of Kansas, during her confirmation in 2009. In October, Roberts called on Sebelius to resign, citing "gross incompetence" over the troubled rollout of the health care law.

Wolf now has the backing of the Madison Project and the Senate Conservatives Fund, two of the outside conservative groups that have created headaches Republican incumbents.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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