How does 2018 differ from 2014 for Greg Orman?

Can an independent candidate for governor win in Kansas, the state with politics historically as ruby red as Dorothy’s slippers? Greg Orman and a large body of supporters believe that one can and that Orman will prove so by winning in November. Quite a few vocal opponents from both the left and the right, though, disagree. They point out that Orman lost the Senate race to GOP incumbent Pat Roberts in 2014, even though the Democrat candidate withdrew from the race. So what’s different?

The past four years have seen increasing frustration with the two major parties. According to Gallup, the percentage of unaffiliated voters in 2017 was 42%. 31% of Kansas voters are unaffiliated. Only 45%, less than half, of Kansas voters are registered Republicans and 24% Democrats. According to a February USA Today/Suffolk University poll, 60% of voters have a unfavorable opinion of the Republican party and 48% have an unfavorable view of the Democratic party. The large number of independents and increasing number of people dissatisfied with both parties show a strong potential for Orman to win at least the 43% of votes that he did in 2014.

In 2014, Orman ran without the structural advantages of major party candidates, such as a built-in network of volunteers, donors, and campaign operatives. He had to start it all from scratch. In 2018, Orman is able to build on that foundation and is also able to leverage support from Unite America –– including our local chapter here in Kansas. Our Kansas Unite America chapter is organizing itself to provide local volunteers across Kansas. Unite America’s launch last week of its slate of independent candidates earned media attention from outlets ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Politico.

The dynamics of the 2018 governor’s race also differ from the dynamics of the 2014 senate race. In 2014, Orman challenged incumbent Senator Roberts who, while unpopular, was not tainted as Kobach is by an ongoing trial over allegations of voter suppression and intimidation, and by his unwillingness to consider common sense gun reform. In a poll conducted before the Stoneman High School shooting in Florida, Kobach’s unfavorable rating was already 35% (42% favorable, 23% undecided). In the wake of the shooting, Kobach has doubled down on arming teachers and has invited the NRA to hold their convention in Kansas. While the Democrats plan to field a candidate, the political tone in Kansas has shifted far to the right from where it was in 2002 and 2006 when Kathleen Sebelius was elected governor.

These current circumstances are perfect for a candidate like Greg Orman, who is fiscally responsible and socially accepting. Moderate Republicans who believe that our country is built on a foundation of immigration, that all Americans should be treated equally under the law, and that government can be simultaneously small and compassionate no longer have a home in the GOP. Orman appeals to these moderate Republicans as well as independents and moderate Democrats.

Given voters’ frustrations with the two major parties, the advantages of support from Unite America, and the specific dynamics of the 2018 governor’s race, Greg Orman heads into this race ideally situated to become our next governor.

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This guest post was written by Elaine Stephen, leader of the Unite America - Kansas chapter.

Views and opinions expressed in guest posts do not necessarily reflect those of Unite America.