Tight Kansas Race Could Decide Senate Power Shift
WICHITA, Kan. -- For Republicans to win back control of the U.S. Senate, they must gain six seats and try to hold on to the ones they currently have.
The most jeopardized GOP seat is in Kansas, where three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is locked in a razor-tight battle that could determine the balance of power on Capitol Hill.
Roberts told CBN News his opponent, independent Greg Orman, is a liberal Democrat masquerading as an independent.
Opponents of Roberts want to see him go.
"We need a change. We need to break the gridlock in Washington," Orman supporter Janice Bradley said.
Meanwhile, Roberts supporters believe in the three-term senator.
It's something CBN News discussed with Roberts on his statewide bus tour.
"A vote for Pat Roberts is to go back to Washington and vote for a Republican majority that will kick Harry Reid out and we will get this country back," the Kansas lawmaker told CBN News.
"The road to a Republican majority runs right through Kansas," he added.
Recent polls show Roberts moving up in the race, a sign that his message may be resonating in a strongly Republican Kansas.
His opponent, Orman, calls himself an independent despite claims to the contrary. Political observers say it has worked well so far.
"Pat Roberts is having a hard time defining Orman as a Democrat. Orman has been pretty successful at staying above the fray," University of Kansas professor Burdett Loomis said.
Orman has also attracted voters dissatisfied with longtime politicians. But Roberts told CBN News his campaign will expose any secrets.
"Do you believe he's deceiving the people of Kansas? Do you believe he's lying about this idea that he's an Independent?" CBN News's David Brody asked Roberts.
"Not when we get through with him," Roberts replied. "This is a person who by donation and by his stand on the issues is a liberal Democrat."
Orman wouldn't respond to multiple requests for an interview.
Meanwhile, in Wichita on Thursday, Roberts brought in Tea Party hero Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to rally the troops.
"The two years that I've served in the Senate over and over again on fight after fight for conservative principles Pat Roberts has stood up and reported for duty," Cruz said.
Cruz's visit comes after a tough primary fight against the Tea Party candidate that alienated some in the movement. Those are votes Roberts must have to win.
"How does it feel to be the secret Tea Party weapon for Pat Roberts," Brody asked the Texas lawmaker.
"It is terrific to see the enthusiasm here. This race in Kansas, the stakes are high," Cruz replied.
"I understand that in the state of Kansas there was a hard-fought primary, and that's a good thing, that's a healthy thing in our democracy but that primary is over," he added.
Roberts told CBN News, "I have talked to many of the Tea Party folks myself, listened to them. The Tea Party is extremely valuable to us. They're the prairie fire that gets things going."
But the Tea Party dust up isn't the only issue.
Roberts is a fourth-generation Kansan and has a home in Dodge City for decades. His principal residence, however, is listed in Washington suburbs and that's provided ammo for his opponents.
"What is your sense about those critics?" Brody asked Roberts. "They want to take shots at you. They say you're a Washington guy."
"I've been border to border, corner to corner in this state. I've been in all 105 counties I just don't think that holds any water," Roberts said.
"Let me tell you something," he continued. "We're going to win this race. We are going to win this race."
Control of the Senate very well may hang in the balance.