Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts reclaimed his seat in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, delivering a win despite trailing by double digits in September and defeating millionaire Democrat-turned-independent Greg Orman, according to election observers from Fox News.
The normally deep-red state became a battleground after Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the race in September. Orman campaigned as a pragmatic independent for months, as Roberts battled Tea Party Dr. Milton Wolff for the Republican nomination.
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Orman had pledged to caucus with whatever party claimed a majority on election day, despite garnering support from Democratic donors.
Orman’s support faltered in the last two months of the campaign, as the media began to scrutinize his positions and claims of independence. Republicans challenged Orman’s alleged independent status, pointing out that he ran for a Senate seat as a Democrat in 2008. Orman also raised thousands of dollars from liberal donors and hired Democratic operatives and campaign firms to manage his candidacy.
A Kansas GOP operative said voters "saw through" Orman’s veneer of independence.
"People saw through Orman's veiled liberalism and opted for the candidate that's worked for Kansas for years as a plain-spoken senator. Orman has refused to come forward and state what he believes and what he'd do," the operative said. "Greg Orman is a platitude wrapped in some boilerplate inside a cliché."
Roberts has long been a quiet, reliable Republican vote in the upper chamber. He became more aggressive as Orman surged in the polls, airing ads accusing the businessman of being "Obama’s candidate."
National GOP groups flooded the state with advertisements calling Orman a Democrat in independent clothing and popular Republicans joined Roberts on stage to laud his credentials. Sens. Ted Cruz (R, Texas) and Rand Paul (R., KY) said that Roberts was essential to throwing out Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole also campaigned at Roberts’ side. Orman drew fire in the closing days of the campaign for calling Dole a "clown" and denying reports that he apologized for the insult.