OVERLAND PARK, Kansas — US Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) has come back from a significant poll deficit against independent businessman Greg Orman in the state’s Senate race.
And according to campaign strategists and those familiar with the race, there’s a simple reason: Orman, who was allowed to go unchallenged for two months after entering the race in June, has finally been put under the microscope.
According to a source familiar with the race, Orman spent about $US2 million on positive advertising upon entering the race. Doing so boosted his public image and fostered his rise in polls. He crept up to the mid-20s in polls, which also showed he would lead a head-to-head race with Roberts. It led to calls for Democratic candidate Chad Taylor to drop out of the race, something he eventually did.
But during this rise, Orman got no pushback from the Roberts or Taylor campaigns. At the same time, Roberts was mired in a brutal primary that left him badly damaged among his own base. They were, as one source close to the Roberts campaign admitted, good ads.
One source close to the Roberts campaign, which has been revamped over the past two months, admitted Orman wasn’t taken seriously soon enough.
“That’s the No. 1 reason why you’re in Kansas today,” a source close to the Roberts campaign told Business Insider, referring to Orman’s original spending on ads. “If that didn’t happen, you would not be in Kansas. If he was spotted a half-million dollars vs. $US2 million, you would not be in Kansas.”
Over the past two months, the Roberts campaign has sought to define Orman as someone who is not truly independent. Roberts liberally throws around the name of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in tandem with a reminder of how important the race could be for Senate control.
The Roberts campaign has pushed questions about Orman’s business history. This includes revelations he sat on the board of a private-equity firm founded by Rajat Gupta, who was convicted in 2012 on charges of insider trading. His campaign has largely kept him out of the spotlight since a September story in The Topeka Journal detailed his dealings with Gupta.
And he has been hammered by ties to a group of big-spending donors trying to elect him to the Senate, including significant Democratic donor George Soros’ son.
Voters once viewed him by a widely favourable margin. But according to a new Remington Research poll, Orman’s favorability rating is down to 43%. And the number of voters who view him unfavorably is up to 40%.
“As we’ve begun to educate people about the real Greg Orman, his support has begun to rapidly decline,” the source close to the Roberts campaign told Business Insider.
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