Ted Cruz will be campaigning with Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas as the Republican fights off an unexpected challenge from millionaire businessman Greg Orman, an independent who says he will work with whomever is the U.S. Senate majority leader next year.
Sens. Cruz (R-Texas) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have endorsed Roberts and will be in Kansas Oct. 9-10 campaigning for their fellow GOP.
“To stop the liberal Harry Reid-Barack Obama agenda, we must win the Senate Majority – and we can’t do that without Pat Roberts back in the Senate,” Cruz said in a statement released by the Roberts campaign.
“Pat will stand strong for Kansans, and I look forward to joining him on the campaign trail this week to launch his statewide bus tour,” Cruz added.
No one saw Orman coming. However, months ago during the GOP primary, Roberts ran into trouble when he had to admit sleeping on a friend’s recliner when he campaigned because he didn’t own a home in Kansas.
Still, Roberts was able to defeat three challengers in the Republican primary and seemed assured of a general election victory.
When Democrat Chad Taylor withdrew, that left only Orman, an independent, to challenge Roberts in November.
It seemed a safe bet even in early September that Roberts would easily win a fourth term in office, but now Roberts needs whatever help he can get if a recent NBC News/Marist poll is to be believed.
It shows Orman — who bills himself as having allegiance to no political party, even though he campaigned as a Democrat before withdrawing from the 2008 U.S. Senate primary — with a 10 point lead over Roberts.
However, a CBS News/New York Times/YouGov poll that was released the same day, Oct. 1, has the Kansas Senate race as a tie.
The Real Clear Politics average of all recent polls in the race gave Orman a lead of 5.2 points Oct. 7 and judged the race to be a toss-up.
No matter how close the race is, or is not, Roberts is not about to go down without a fight.
The Roberts campaign is doing its best to define Orman as a liberal Democrat, not the independent the millionaire — the Orman campaign puts his net worth at $20 million-$86 million — claims to be.
Roberts linked Orman to President Obama in the “Mistake” ad, which began running statewide in Kansas on Oct. 3.
The ad stars Obama telling an audience that although they won’t see his name on the ballot, they will be voting on his administration’s policies in November.
“Every single one of them,” Obama says.
So, the ad’s narrator concludes, “A vote for Greg Orman in November is a vote for the Obama agenda.”
Corry Bliss, the Roberts for Senate campaign manager, has accused Orman of being the handpicked candidate of Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
“There should be no mistake that if he’s elected, Orman will be a rubber stamp for their liberal agenda,” Bliss said.
The Roberts campaign’s Mistake ad began running only two days after the campaign began airing an ad accusing Orman of “being desperate to hide his liberal agenda.”
“Orman supports ObamaCare, he supports amnesty and in his own words and campaign donations, he supports President Obama and Harry Reid. There should be no mistake that Greg Orman is a liberal Democrat and a vote for him is a vote for President Obama,” Bliss added.
The Orman team maintains that partisan spirit is the cause of gridlock in Washington and Roberts has to share the blame.
“Washington is broken because politicians like Senator Roberts refuse to address serious problems like immigration,” said Jim Jonas, the Orman campaign manager.
In the “11 million” ad that began running the first week of October, the Orman campaign said Washington’s failure to pass immigration reform legislation is the perfect example of how the machinery in Washington, of which Roberts is a cog, has ground to a halt.
“Instead of working on a solution, Roberts has come back to Kansas to lie about Greg Orman,” the ad states, referring to a Roberts campaign charge Orman was deceiving Kansas voters about his support for an amnesty program for illegal immigrants.
“The truth?” the 11 million ad narrator says. “Orman opposes amnesty. He’ll secure the border with a plan that’s tough, practical and fair to taxpayers.”
Bliss said nothing could be further from the truth.
“President Obama and Harry Reid want Greg Orman elected to the Senate because they know the only thing that can stop executive amnesty is a Senate Republican Majority with Pat Roberts,” said Bliss. “A vote for Greg Orman is a green light for Obama on amnesty.”
Roberts’ campaign has also called into question Orman’s assertion that he is a true independent who will be beholden to neither party, if elected.
The official Orman biography details encounters and associations with Republicans — including President Reagan — and Democrats.
That bipartisan attitude came from his upbringing, according to the Orman campaign website.
Orman’s maternal grandfather was a Democrat who worked with Hubert Humphrey. His mother who was a “union nurse was also a Democrat.”
His father, on the other hand, was a lifelong Republican.
Orman told NBC News he is so independent he will caucus with whichever party winds up taking control of the Senate in January 2015.
The idea that Orman is a true independent is not a new theme for his campaign. Orman began running the ad, Half Right, in late September blaming both parties — Democratic and Republican — for gridlock in Washington.
However, the Roberts campaign said the Half Right ad actually proves Orman’s allegiance to Obama and Reid rather than reaffirming his independence.
Bliss pointed out that not only did Orman vote for Obama in 2008, he also donated “thousands of dollars” to the Reid reelection campaign.
“Unfortunately, this is just the latest chapter in a growing pattern of deceit and evasiveness by liberal Greg Orman,” said Bliss. “He will say anything, do anything, and in this case, hire anyone, to help him get elected.”