Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) is locked in the fight of his political life, but new polling shows he is gaining ground on his opponent, Greg Orman, if only because the more Kansans find out about Orman the less they like him.
Rand PAC, the leadership PAC of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), wants to give Kansas voters even more reason to vote for Roberts with a “six-figure” ad buy that will run through Election Day.
The single-ad campaign, “Courage to say No,” is being run on broadcast, cable, and online.
In the ad the narrator tells viewers Roberts was one of the “few true conservative senators” who stood with Paul on legislation that would have stopped U.S. foreign aid from going to countries where “radicals storm our embassies, burn our flag, and kill our diplomats.”
“On the Senate floor, Pat Roberts stood against sending foreign aid to countries that burn the American flag. Pat will protect America’s interests abroad, while also protecting the tax dollars of every hardworking American,” said Doug Stafford, the executive director of Rand PAC.
Mitt Romney and former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) are also campaigning for Roberts in Kansas. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) campaigned for Roberts Oct. 9-10.
The Roberts campaign accused Orman of holding a fundraiser in Beverly Hills, Calif., while Roberts was campaigning with Romney and Dole on Oct. 27.
“It’s no surprise that the liberal Hollywood elites would embrace liberal Greg Orman,” Roberts’ campaign manager Corry Bliss said. “Greg Orman advocates for their far-left views. Orman supports amnesty for illegal immigrants. He supports abortion on demand. He dismisses any effort to repeal Obamacare, and he is so extreme on environmental issues he won’t even support the Keystone Pipeline.”
However, the Kansas City Star has endorsed Orman over Roberts, calling the independent challenger “a champion of effective leadership” and the incumbent senator “mean-spirited.”
“With his relentlessly unfair and negative TV attack ads trying to smear Orman, Roberts provides more evidence that he is out of touch with Kansans who deserve a positive representative in Washington,” wrote the Kansas City Star’s editorial staff.
The Salina Journal has also gone on record in favor of Orman, writing, “Sen. Roberts has conducted himself in an embarrassing fashion….In the twilight of his long political career, Sen. Pat Roberts seems hell-bent on destroying the image he spent decades building.”
However, Orman, who invested $1.2 million of his own money in the campaign in the third week of October, as the Wichita Eagle reported, has not been shy about attacking Roberts’ record in Congress.
Most recently, Orman’s campaign went after Roberts’ attendance record, pointing to several media reports that the Republican has skipped 65 percent of Senate Agriculture Committee hearings and 85 percent of Senate Health Committee hearings over the past 15 years. That included a hearing on the CDC’s plan to fight the Ebola virus.
“Senator Roberts lives in Virginia, barely visits Kansas, and has failed to show up and do the job in Washington that the people of Kansas are paying him to do,” Jim Jonas, the campaign manager for Orman for Senate, said.
The race that no one in Kansas saw coming until serious questions were raised about whether Roberts could honestly claim residency in the state, and Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the Senate race, is still way too close to call.
A CBS/NYT imes/YouGov poll released Oct. 23 had Roberts up by 4 points. But an NBC/Marist poll released the next day had Orman up by 1 point and Rasmussen Reports had Orman up by 5 points.
Real Clear Politics called the race, one the GOP is counting on to win control of the U.S. Senate, a toss-up and had Orman in the lead by 0.6 points.
Still, Roberts’ polling numbers were getting better because the more Kansas learns about Orman, the less they like him.
The NBC News/Marist Poll had Orman in the lead 45 percent to 44 percent among likely voters, including those who described themselves as undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.
The NBC News/Marist poll also showed that while Roberts is still unpopular, his favorable rating had improved. In contrast, Orman’s negatives went up.
Roberts’ favorable rating among likely voters was 43 percent, a marked improvement from 37 percent a few weeks earlier.
Orman’s negative rating was 37 percent, up from 26 percent among Kansas’ likely voters.
Orman might have begun to dig his own grave when he promised to caucus with whichever party was in power in the Senate. Orman said that would be in the best interest of Kansas.
Republicans have done their best to tie Orman to President Obama, and Kansans don’t like the idea of one of their senators working with the Democrats.
“There’s nothing like the possibility of a U.S. senator from Kansas caucusing with the Democrats to make some voters rethink their choice for Senate,” said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
“Orman’s initial double-digit lead over Roberts has evaporated, and the contest is now a tossup.”