Biden: Kansas Independent ‘Will Be With Us’

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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If he is elected Tuesday, Kansas independent Senate candidate Greg Orman will work with Democrats, according to Vice President Joe Biden.

“We have a chance of picking up an independent who will be with us in the state of Kansas,” Biden told radio station WPLR in an interview Tuesday.

That would be news to Kansas voters though.

Orman, who is challenging Republican incumbent Pat Roberts, has been cagey when asked which party he will caucus with if elected.

Roberts has tried to paint Orman as a liberal Democrat posing as an independent. He has cited Orman’s past contributions to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as evidence of that.

The Roberts camp also sees Orman’s refusal to state which party he will caucus with as part of the challenger’s “run out the clock” strategy.

If Orman told voters that he would caucus with Democrats, Roberts and other Republicans believe he would lose handily in conservative Kansas.

Despite his past support for Reid, Orman has said he thinks both the Democrat and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are responsible for the partisan gridlock in Washington. Orman has said that he will support neither leader and claims that he will caucus with whichever party holds a “clear majority” after Tuesday.

The 45-year-old Kansas City-area businessman, who briefly ran as a Democrat against Roberts in 2008, has not said what he believes constitutes a “clear majority.”

With his comments Tuesday, Biden could be making the assumption that enough Democrats hold their seats to maintain their majority, which would then mean that Orman, by his own pledge, would choose to sit on their side of the aisle.

The Senate currently houses two independents– Maine’s Angus King and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. Both caucus with Democrats. King was also similarly coy about his caucus decision leading up to his election in 2012.

“I think they will hold the Senate,” Biden said of his party’s prospects.

He said he believes Democrats will retain their seats in Alaska, New Hampshire and North Carolina, and that Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn will defeat David Perdue in Georgia.

Biden did not comment on the races in Colorado and Arkansas, where two Republicans are currently leading their incumbent Democratic opponents in the most recent polls. He also did not mention Iowa, where Republican Joni Ernst has a slight edge over Democrat Bruce Braley. They are vying for a seat being vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin.

Republicans are also expected to pick up two Democratic seats in West Virginia and Montana.

The only hesitation Biden offered was in the Louisiana race, in which he said Democrat Mary Landrieu could face a runoff.

“Greg’s never spoken to the vice president in his life. Greg is an Independent, and he’s not going to Washington represent the Democrats or the Republicans – he’s going to represent the people of Kansas,” Orman campaign manager Jim Jonas said in a statement.

Updated to include a statement from the Orman campaign. 


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