With a two-man race now looking all but certain, national Republicans are planning a scorched-earth offensive to frame Sen. Pat Roberts’s (R-Kan.) independent opponent, Greg Orman, as a shady businessman.
Their first volley this weekend: reports that Orman represented Rajat Gupta — the former Goldman Sachs board member who incurred criminal and civil fines of more than $18 million and was jailed earlier this year for securities fraud — on a two-person board of a Cayman Islands private equity partnership.
Kansas Republicans say to expect more information on his business dealings to come out in the coming weeks — likely as a systematic drip-drip of information, to keep the issue alive throughout the race. An Orman aide dismissed any potential damage, saying “the fundamentals of the race are still there, and that is, people are tired of the Washington dysfunction, and they’re tired of Pat Roberts.”
The GOP will also begin propping up the vulnerable incumbent senator with support from revered national Republican figures to help him keep the seat.
Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) are both stumping for Roberts in the state this week, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is heading there for campaign event next week. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are both scheduled for appearances in October.
The need to boost Roberts’s image is imperative with six weeks to go until Election Day. Democrats pushed to get their struggling nominee, Chad Taylor, out of the race in the expectation that Orman would caucus with them. With Taylor appearing now to be off the ballot for good, recent polling has shown Orman leading Roberts in a head-to-head fight by 6 to 10 points.
McCain! Jebby! Rand! Boy, Republicans aren't just running scared, they're flat-out terrified. They know losing Roberts's seat will almost certainly cost them the Senate, and Roberts is in real trouble of losing it.
If Democrats can hold on in North Carolina, Iowa, and Colorado, and Roberts goes down in Kansas, it's going to be a long, long night for the GOP on November 4.