New Poll: Kansas Governor Race Tightens; Orman, Kobach Lead

By John Celock

A new poll shows that while Democrat Paul Davis still leads Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) the incumbent has closed the gap to within the margin of error. At the same time, independent Greg Orman has continued to lead in the U.S. Senate race, while Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) leads in his race.

The Suffolk University/USA Today poll released Wednesday shows Davis, the state House minority leader, leading Brownback 46 percent to 42 percent with six percent undecided. The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 4.4 percent. Davis has consistently led Brownback all year, by either high single digits or 10 percent in most polls. Wednesday’s poll comes after the Republican has continued to hammer Davis on being a Democrat from Lawrence and his past support for President Barack Obama.

The poll was conducted a week after reports surfaced that Davis was receiving a lap dance in a Coffeyville strip club during a 1998 drug raid. Davis, who was an attorney for the club’s owner, was not arrested in the raid. He has said that was he in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”

Davis has consistently hammered Brownback on the impact of his tax cuts, saying that the Republican’s plan would bankrupt the state. Brownback has defended the cuts and pledged to continue them if elected. Education issues also have centered into the race, with Davis saying Brownback has underfunded schools while Brownback touts what he says are increased funding for schools.

In the U.S. Senate race, Orman, a businessman from Johnson County leads Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) 46 percent to 41 percent with 11 percent undecided. The race has taken an unusual twist, with Democratic nominee Chad Taylor dropping out last month and Democrats not replacing him on the ballot. The District Court in Shawnee County dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to force Democrats to name a replacement for Taylor.

Orman has not indicated which party he would caucus with in the Senate, and Republicans have hammered him for his past ties to Democrats, including briefly seeking the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in 2008. Roberts, who shook up his campaign staff last month, has been receiving help from national GOP heavyweights with former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush all campaigning for him in recent weeks.

In the competitive secretary of state’s race, Kobach leads Democrat Jean Schodorf 45 percent to 40 percent with 12 percent undecided. Kobach has long been a lightening rod for Democrats over his views on illegal immigration and voter identification. Schodorf is a former moderate Republican state senator from Wichita who switched parties following her defeat in a 2012 GOP state Senate primary.

The poll showed that while Kobach holds a narrow lead in his reelection bid, state Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) is a favorite in his bid against Democrat A.J. Kotich. Schmidt leads Kotich 45 percent to 25 percent with 29 percent undecided.