Democratic Senate candidate in Kansas withdraws
The Kansas Senate race, which was supposed to be a breeze for long time GOP Senator Pat Roberts, just got very interesting.
Democratic candidate Chad Taylor told the Kansas secretary of state that he was withdrawing from the race, leaving the field clear for a head to head match up between Roberts and independent businessman Greg Orman.
Orman, 45, has shown some fundraising prowess throughout the campaign, raising more than $670,000 through mid-July.
The development could have serious implications in the battle for control of the Senate. Once viewed as a GOP lock, Kansas may now emerge as a critical race in determining whether Republicans return to power for the first time in nearly a decade. Republican outside groups — which had been mainly focused on four red states and battlegrounds states like Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire — may be forced to spend money to save Roberts’ seat.
A mid-August poll of likely voters from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed Orman beating Roberts 43-33 in a head-to-head matchup, while Taylor was shown losing narrowly. Randy Batson, a Libertarian candidate, will also be on the ballot.
Roberts’ camp quickly sought to cast Orman as a Democrat in disguise, calling Taylor’s withdrawal a “corrupt bargain between Greg Orman and national Democrats including Senator Harry Reid that disenfranchises Kansas Democrats.”
“Orman is the choice of liberal Democrats and he can no longer hide behind an independent smokescreen,” the Republican’s campaign said in a statement.
Travis Smith of Axiom Strategies, a Roberts consultant, said the campaign will give Orman, whom he said wasn’t really taken seriously as a contender until Taylor withdrew, a “full, thorough vetting.”
“I don’t think he can get away with it,” Smith said.
Orman has spent time as both a Democrat and Republican, but he emphasizes that he’s spent more of his life as an independent or unaffiliated voter — and most of his political donations have gone to independent candidates.
While Kansas is a solidly GOP state, the rise of the tea party has alienated many moderates in a state with a long-standing tradition of centrist lawmakers. As the state GOP has moved sharply to the right, it has created an opening — not just for Orman, but also Democrat Paul Davis in this year’s governor’s race against conservative incumbent Sam Brownback.
Orman has vowed not to vote for either of party’s standard-bearer as Senate leader. His campaign website describes North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski as potential leaders he could support, willing to buck their party “to vote for what is right.”
Is Orman a Democratic stalking horse? Whether he is or he isn't, that's how Roberts is going to portray him. He is probably not going to get all the Democratic votes that Tayor was going to receive, which means he will have to draw a lot of non-alinged voters to his side in order to beat Roberts.
Possible, but not probable.
Roberts' real danger is in a credible Libertarian candidate who might draw just enough Republican votes to deny him victory.
Orman has several things going for him:
1. Kansas is a cheap media state so Orman can compete on a somewhat equal level.
2. Roberts is disliked by a majority of Kansans who think he has been in Washington too long.
3. The state GOP is divided and Tea Party Republicans may stay home on election day.
This is a recipe for disaster and unless Roberts is successful in getting people to believe that Orman is really a Democrat in independent clothing, he will be in trouble in November.