When Kansas voters go the polls on Tuesday they may be choosing not just Greg Orman, the independent, or Pat Roberts, the Republican for Senate, but also which party controls Congress.
As the Associated Press recently reported, in a closely divided Senate “it’s possible that one or two men will decide which party controls the Senate.” One of those men is Orman, who holds a narrow one point lead over Roberts.
The Kansas race – and all close races – is pivotal because an outcome that allows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to keep his post will nullify the results of every race in America.
Replacing Reid, on the other hand, will open the floodgates of reform. A vote for Roberts means Republican reformers like Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and others will finally get a fair hearing.
Reid is obsessed with the obstructionism theme because he himself is the obstruction. He has blocked senators from offering amendments twice as often as all other majority leaders combined.
Reid has done this by abusing the majority leader’s power of first recognition. This power allows Reid to “fill the amendment tree,” which prevents everyone else from offering amendments. This is like Reid walking into a restaurant that seats 100 people and reserving every table for himself and his closest friend, Barack Obama.
Reid is filibustering nearly 400 House-passed bills and has allowed far fewer votes on minority party amendments than Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Since July of 2013, Reid has allowed 14 votes compared to 184 from Boehner.
For someone who likes to brag about his boxing background Reid is surprisingly afraid of a fair fight. Like most authoritarian leaders, he’s too ideologically insecure for open debate.
Orman, of course, says he’ll “fix” Washington. But in a Senate controlled by Reid he’ll have leverage over nothing. In fact, as an independent he’ll occupy a very small corner of the Senate’s obscurity caucus. Plus, Orman has all the hallmarks of an evasive politician who is very bright but the lacks the principles, courage and judgment to accomplish much of anything.
On issue after issue Orman won’t get voters a straight answer, which has earned him the nickname “Or-man” in the state.
When asked if he’d vote to repeal ObamaCare he replied, “That’s an interesting question.” Nor will he say how he’d vote on dozens of individual policy issues. He even literally ran away from an elderly woman who asked about his position on abortion.
Disrespecting voters is a curious way to repair a broken system.
What Orman is clear about, however, is his support for campaign finance reform, which he features prominently on his website. This issue is a nod to Reid’s obsession with the Koch brothers and is a dog whistle for left-wing donors. Not surprisingly, Jonathan Soros, the son of left-wing billionaire George Soros, heard the call and hosted a fundraiser for Orman in New York.
Orman denies that he’s an automatic vote for Reid, or a liberal in disguise. He says he’ll caucus with whatever party is in the majority.
How bold. Does that mean he’ll become a Democrat if Republicans win the Senate in 2014 but lose it in 2016, which is a likely outcome? Apparently so.
Orman dances further by insisting he won’t support Reid or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as majority leader. Instead, he says senators should rally around someone else. But who, exactly? Fellow independent Bernie Sanders? Orman will elect Reid by default.
Reid and Orman seem to think voters aren’t smart enough to sort this out but don’t expect Kansans to be fooled. On Tuesday, they’ll have the final word.
John Hart is editor-in-chief of OpportunityLives.com, an online magazine about conservative solutions, and former communications director to Senator Tom Coburn (R., Okla.).