TOPEKA, Kan. – With two networks calling the Kansas Senate race for U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R), attendees at a GOP watch party here have been letting up cheers and hoping for a good night.
Roberts leads independent Greg Orman by 32,000 votes with over half counted. Roberts has not addressed supporters gathered in the hotel ballroom here, but the news of Fox and CBS calling the race for the Republican has been a boon for the GOP.
Kansas has become the surprise race of the Senate cycle, with Roberts first fending off a challenge from tea party favorite Milton Wolf in the GOP primary and then facing a strong challenge from Orman in the general. Roberts had struggled to bounce back from reports from earlier this year that he did not live in his Dodge City home but rather in the Washington D.C. suburbs.
Democrat Chad Taylor’s withdrawal in September shook up the race giving Orman the chance to position himself as Roberts’ main challenger. Orman did not say which party he would caucus with, but Roberts sought to paint Orman as a closet Democrat, noting that he had donated to Democrats and received donations from Democrats.