A Kansas City attorney with a lifelong history of supporting Democrats is using his own money and the support of a new super PAC to elect an "independent" Senate candidate who insists he will not be beholden to the Democratic Party.
Kansas City attorney Greg Wolf in August formed a super PAC backing Greg Orman’s Senate campaign. Two months earlier, Wolf wrote his campaign a check.
It was Wolf’s first donation to a federal campaign that did not support a Democrat—at least not officially.
Orman won’t say whether he will caucus with Senate Democrats if he succeeds in unseating incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R. Ks.) in November. However, Wolf’s support suggests that Democrats in the state see Orman as an ally.
His campaign received a major boost last week when the state’s supreme court ruled that Democratic candidate Chad Taylor could remove his name from the ballot.
Arguing successfully for that outcome was Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee attorney Marc Elias, though he said he was not doing so on behalf of national Democrats.
Republicans portray Orman’s reticence regarding party affiliation as a misleading attempt to distance himself from national Democrats, an important task in a state that overwhelmingly voted for Mitt Romney in 2012.
"I tried both parties and like many Kansans, I’ve been disappointed with both," he said in a recent ad. "As an independent, I won’t answer to either party, I’ll answer only to the people of Kansas."
GOP-aligned groups have been quick to point out Orman’s thousands of dollars in contributions to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and other Democrats. Backing from local Democrats in Kansas could give added credence to claims he is the Democratic Party’s preferred candidate and a likely ally in the Senate.
Wolf has been described in press reports as a "Johnson County Democratic activist."
As of May, he had donated $9,950 to federal campaigns. Every cent went to Democrats, including $500 to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), who helped convince Taylor to withdraw from the race.
The group, Kansans Support Problem Solvers, has yet to report an independent expenditure in the race to the Federal Election Commission. However, its Facebook page has been buzzing with pro-Orman communications.
"With Chad Taylor removed from the ballot, FiveThirtyEight predicts that Greg Orman has a 64% chance of defeating Pat Roberts in November," the page declared on Friday.
Wolf did not respond to requests for comment about the group’s mission or strategy.
His longtime support for Kansas Democrats could feed attempts by Republicans to portray Orman as allied with Reid and his caucus. Those attempts came to the forefront on Tuesday after Orman’s campaign hired a former DSCC staffer.
The staffer, Mike Phillips, will serve as a spokesman for the campaign. He denied discussing the move with DSCC prior to joining the campaign.
"Chad Taylor's lawyer was top DSCC lawyer. Greg Orman's spox a [former] top staffer to DSCC Chairman. Notice a trend?" wrote National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring of the news.