On Friday, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) attacked his “Independent” challenger Greg Orman for supporting “a path to citizenship” for 11 million illegal aliens.
Appearing on Laura Ingraham’s national radio show, Roberts said, “[Orman] says he that wants to grant citizenship to all illegal aliens if they pay a small fine and promise to obey the law, [but] these people have already broken the law! I have fought amnesty every time. I will always fight amnesty; that’s a big difference in our debate.”
The 78-year-old Roberts has been staunchly anti-amnesty throughout his public career. Roberts voted against the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill in 2013. Orman, a 45-year-old Princeton educated multi-millionaire, has pledged to vote for the policies included in that bill.
Roberts’ opposition to amnesty is not new. In 1986, while serving in the House of Representatives, he voted against the Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration “Reform Bill,” which effectively granted amnesty to 2 million illegal aliens. That bill, which prohibited employers from knowingly employing illegals, is widely viewed as a failure in the anti-amnesty community. Businesses simply did not abide by the prohibition on the employment of illegal aliens because the law lacked enforcement teeth.
The Senate race in Kansas has become unexpectedly competitive after a series of unusual twists and turns. Roberts defeated Tea Party-endorsed challenger Milton Wolf by a narrower than expected 47% to 41% margin in the August 5 Republican primary. Then Chad Taylor, the Democratic nominee who won the Democratic primary on August 5, dropped out of the race. In a legal challenge that went all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was instructed that he had to remove Taylor’s name from the ballot.
The latest polls indicate that Orman currently holds a slight lead in the race.
Orman has run a campaign that is more personality based than issue oriented. His campaign highlights his youth, financial success, and record as a pragmatic problem solver not tied to any particular ideology.
Stylistically, Orman has several advantage over Roberts. Not only does he look more than three decades younger than Roberts, he campaigns person-to-person with a zeal and vigor that Roberts, a former Marine, has not shown in years.
Roberts’ campaign, in contrast, has been less person-to-person and more media driven.
Roberts’ sudden focus on immigration, however, may be an indication his campaign believes Orman’s personality-driven campaign may be more of a weakness than a strength.
Pat Roberts may be old and disconnected from the average Kansas voter, but his conservative voting record (American Heritage Scorecard rates him as the third most conservative Senator in this Congress) and steadfast opposition to amnesty throughout his long political career, is consistent with the political heritage of Kansas’s conservative Republican voters.
Orman, a former McKinsey consultant and investor who estimates his net worth between $21 million and $86 million according to his recent financial disclosures, briefly ran against Roberts as a Democrat in 2008, is running as an independent and has soared in the polls since the Democratic candidate dropped out of the race.
As the Kansas City Star reported on September 19th, Orman told voters at a Kansas State Fair debate in early September: “If you are here undocumented, you should register, pay a fine, obey our laws, hold down a job and pay taxes, and then I think you should be able to stay here.”
Beyond favoring a “pro-amnesty” position, Orman, who has never been elected to public office, has made very few other definitive statements about his positions on a number of key issues.
As the Washington Post reported on Monday, Orman’s positions on the Keystone Pipeline, gun control, the repeal of Obamacare, and even which party he might caucus with if elected remain vague.
Orman’s prior business dealings, and his close business relationship with Rajat Gupta, his former colleague at McKinsey, who was convicted of insider trading in 2012, have also come under increasing scrutiny.
Conservative talk show host Ingraham, whose support for anti-amnesty Dave Brat was a key factor in his upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in this past June’s Republican primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, encouraged Roberts to make immigration the key issue in the Kansas Senate race against Orman.
“I think of all the issues in your race, [Orman’s] position on the need to prop up illegal workers, and to keep businesses happy with cheap labor, that’s your sweet spot senator, that’s it,” Ingraham told Roberts on her show Friday. “He’s going to say ‘he’s independent, I hold both parties accountable,’ but you actually have done that,” Ingraham added.
“You did that with George W. Bush’s attempt to cram down immigration amnesty with John McCain, you stood against this most recent attempt to do it in the U.S. Senate; you actually took on your party, yet you’re kind of a quiet warrior,” Ingraham told Roberts. “I know Jeff Sessions is known as a warrior on this issue, you vote the right way, I think a lot of people don’t know that you’re in that battle, and if I could give any advice, I would be that warrior, because the country is really hurting, and it’s nothing personal against people violating the law, but you aren’t in the country legally and you can’t call the shots, we call the shots in our country, we the people,” Ingraham said.
Ingraham had a message for voters in Kansas.
“[B]ut if people in Kansas are listening,” she said, “Pat Roberts voted the right way every time this issue came up. And you need to be known to those people, Senator, as a warrior for the American working class. That’s where the Republican Party has lost its way. That’s why the Republicans are not killing it in all these Senate races, which they should be.”