Kansas Democrats hope that after years of termed-out Gov. Sam Brownback’s disastrous budget cuts, voters in this conservative state will be ready for a change. However, if wealthy independent Greg Orman runs for governor, he could make a tough campaign even tougher. Orman expressed interest in January, and while he hasn’t said much since then, KCUR’s Jim McLean writes that “people close to” Orman say he’s going to run.
Back in 2014, Orman ran an independent bid for the U.S. Senate against GOP Sen. Pat Roberts. Polls showed Roberts with weak poll numbers, but with Democratic nominee Chad Taylor and Orman splitting the anti-Roberts vote, the incumbent looked secure. But two months before Election Day, Taylor dropped out of the race, giving Orman a clear shot at Roberts and an initially large lead in the polls. Orman maintained that he’d caucus with whichever party was in the majority, but that didn’t stop Democrats from flocking to him or Republicans from spending heavily against him.
Ultimately, the 2014 GOP wave helped Roberts pull off a 55-43 win. If Orman runs for governor, it’s very likely that he’d pull away more Democratic-leaning voters than Republicans, and this time, we probably couldn’t count on the Democratic nominee dropping out for him.