Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-Kansas) campaign continues to call out Greg Orman for claiming Republicans are going to vote for the independent candidate in a race that Real Clear Politics has branded a “tie.”
Roberts’ supporters on Capitol Hill and in the super PAC Ending Spending Action Fund are putting large amounts of money into the campaign to make sure Kansas voters believe as they do that Orman is really a Democrat.
Orman, a Princeton University graduate with a degree in economics, is trying to stay away from the usual two-party squabbles.
Orman has said he isn’t affiliated with either party, doesn’t know who he would caucus with in the Senate, and believes the U.S. would be better off if more politicians felt that way.
It is true the standard two-party dynamic of American politics was blown apart with the ferocity of the twisters of which Kansas is so proud when Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the Kansas Senate race.
So there is no Democrat in the race, right? Wrong, said Corry Bliss, the manager of the Roberts for Senate campaign.
“Greg Orman is a liberal Democrat through and through. ‘Republicans for Orman’ is nothing but a sham and an attempt to dupe Kansas voters,” Bliss argued.
OK, Bliss has a strong point there. Orman may not want to be affiliated with either party, but he has no problem proclaiming his support from the GOP.
The Orman ad, “Republicans for Orman,” that debuted Oct. 13 featured Sandy Praeger, the Kansas state insurance commissioner, who says in the ad that even though she ran as a Republican and “grew up in a Republican household” she plans to vote for Orman.
“It is no surprise that Sandy Praeger would support Greg Orman,” said Bliss. “Praeger and Orman are both pro-abortion. They are both pro-gun control, and they both oppose repealing Obamacare.”
The question of Orman, who Bliss and other Roberts supporters insist must be a Democrat if he looks like a member of that party and sounds like a member of that party, is being debated from Atchison to Topeka and Wichita, too.
“On the same day Greg Orman announced a new ad called ‘Republicans for Orman,’ he also announced a fundraiser hosted by the son of liberal billionaire George Soros. He brought in Democratic staffers from Washington to run his campaign. He donated tens of thousands to Democrats, including Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Hillary Clinton. He ran as a Democrat in 2008,” said Bliss.
The question of Orman’s party affiliation matters to Kansas voters.
The Republican-leaning Remington Research Group released a survey Oct. 14 that showed most voters in Kansas want Republicans to control the U.S. Senate.
However, it also showed most Kansans who are registered to vote believe Orman is more like a Democrat and an independent than a Republican.
But the Remington survey also shows Orman is still within striking distance of beating Roberts. He trailed the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee by only 2 points, 48-46 percent.
The Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling survey released Oct. 14 had Orman leading Roberts 44 percent to 41 percent with Libertarian candidate Randall Batson in the race. Orman led Roberts by 3 points, 46 percent to 43 percent, without Batson’s name on the ballot.
Roberts’ campaign took a big hit before the GOP primary when questions surfaced about whether he maintains a residence in Kansas or if he just rents space in a supporter’s home in Dodge City during campaigns.
That could be one reason that Orman’s favorability is better than Roberts’ in both the Public Policy Polling and Remington Group surveys.
However, just as voters in Kansas told Remington Group, those who responded to the question in the Public Policy Polling survey said they do want Republicans to control the U.S. Senate by an overwhelming margin, 52 percent to 35 percent.
The margin of GOP vs. Democrat control in the Senate was 56 percent to 35 percent in the Remington survey.
PPP president Dean Debnam said the desire for the GOP to run the Senate might be the saving grace for Roberts and Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who is also in a very tight race.
“Republicans aren’t that enthusiastic about Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts but they’re starting to come around some,” said Debnam. “If that trend continues they may be able to survive their unexpectedly difficult re-election bids.”
Roberts’ GOP friends in the Senate have rallied to his defense. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) joined him for a two-day campaign swing Oct. 9-10.
Outside money is also flooding Kansas from groups hoping to help Roberts win re-election.
The biggest bankroll has come from the Ending Spending Action Fund, originally called Taxpayers Against Earmarks, which was founded by Joe Ricketts, who also founded TD Ameritrade.
Ending Spending Action has made what could be the largest political ad buy to date in Kansas, $1 million, to oppose the candidacy of Orman. The organization that was formed in 2010 has informed the Federal Elections Commission of the ad buy.
Orman’s campaign has countered with the ad “False,” which debuted Oct. 14. In this ad, Orman said he is counting on “the intelligence and the independent spirit of the people of Kansas” to see through what his campaign manager described as “the smears and mudslinging.”
“People here in Kansas know that Washington is broken and that Sen. Roberts and his big-money outside special interest allies are to blame,” said Jim Jonas, the manager of the Orman for Senate campaign.
“They will spend whatever it takes to tear down Greg Orman and buy this election because they know that as a successful businessman and problem solver, Greg will not answer to them – he’ll only answer to the people of Kansas,” Jonas added.
Orman has also argued that it doesn’t matter whether he is a Democrat or a Republican. He says he is an independent candidate and will stay that way if elected to serve in Washington.
Orman has held out the possibility he might caucus with either or neither political party. It all depends which party, he says, has the best agenda, not which party holds the majority in the Senate.
He also thinks it’s possible that neither party will hold the majority. Two independents currently serve in the Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, who both caucus with the Dems.
“If that happens, it’s a great thing for Kansas,” he said in the video, “Who Will Greg Caucus With,” that was released by his campaign Aug. 31. “It gives Kansans the opportunity to define the agenda.”