The specter of independent businessman Greg Orman is haunting Kansas Democrats once again. In 2014, Orman’s message proved popular enough to force the Democrat candidate out of the U.S. Senate race but not popular enough to unseat the Republican perennial placeholder Pat Roberts.
The Senate was a long shot. In 2018, after years of ground-softening media bombardment, Democrats feel they have a good shot at regaining the Kansas governorship. Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita, former Kansas Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty of Ellsworth, and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer have already tossed their proverbial hats into the ring. And this time around, the Dems are not prepared to back out.
In the unkindest cut a Democrat can deliver, Kansas Democratic Party spokesman Ethan Corson told the Kansas City Star, “Democrats aren’t going to forfeit the race to [Orman]. Look what happened last time we elected a rich egomaniac who’s never served or had any history of political experience.” The rich egomaniac in question carried the state by 20 points in 2016. Trump would carry it again today.
The Star article reads like a special pleading: ‘Please Greg Orman, do not get in this race.’ The news of his possible candidacy, reports the Star, “was met with groans by Kansas Democrats who say Orman’s candidacy will boost the Republican candidate in the 2018 general election by pulling votes away from Democrats.” The Star quoted several people to reinforce that point, including Republican candidate Kris Kobach.
The Star, in fact, mentions Kobach by name seven times. It does not mention the name of his chief rival, soon to be governor Jeff Colyer, in the article at all. Colyer is in good company. No other Republican candidate is mentioned either.
Although the reporters would be the first to deny it, they are using the threat of a Kobach governorship to put pressure on Orman to desist. To this point, he has filed the paperwork to establish a campaign committee and has begun fundraising.
“I’m a political Independent for one really simple reason – I don’t believe the current system is working for the American people or the citizens of Kansas,” says Orman on his website. “The two major parties seem to care more about seeing the other party fail than they care about our country succeeding.”
In the immediate future, the Democrats are less interested in seeing the Republicans fail than in seeing Orman fail. He will be learning this the hard way.