After outraising every Democrat in the race, independent Greg Orman officially launched his bid for Kansas governor Wednesday.
In a press call with reporters Wednesday morning, Orman rejected the notion that he will play the role of spoiler in the race.
Kansas voters, Orman said, want leaders who put their needs ahead of the needs of the needs of either major political party.
“They want to actually be able to vote for a candidate based on a positive vision for the future, not vote against a candidate based on hate and fear,” he said. “We intend to give them that choice.”
When pressed on specific policy ideas he planned to campaign on, he offered no specifics.
“We are going to be rolling out a series of very detailed policy prescriptions for Kansas over the course of the coming weeks and months,” he said.
Orman, a multimillionaire who lives in Fairway, is to appear at 4 p.m. Wednesday on MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily with Chuck Todd.
Political observers in the state have said for months that an independent candidate in the race will help elevate the Republican nominee by pulling votes from the Democratic nominee in November when Kansas chooses a new governor.
Bob Beatty, a political scientist at Washburn University, called Orman’s impact to the race “the $450,000 question.”
“Right now it’s not good for the Democrats. On the other hand, they certainly have time to deal with it,” he said. “You look at where he’s raising money, at this point I still don’t see a grassroots effort.”
Patrick Miller, a political scientist at the University of Kansas, said that Orman’s support in 2014 closely aligned with Democratic candidates.
“He and a Democrat probably can’t split that piece of a pie and be successful. A challenge for him is to broaden your appeal,” Miller said. “He can’t even assume that most of them are going to vote for him with a Democrat on the ballot.. And then obviously the flipside of this is that it’s a gigantic obstacle for the Democrat.”
“We’re still a republican-leaning state and can a democrat even one who can raise money really afford to be losing any votes to a candidate like Orman,” he said.
Orman, who has never held elected office, gained a national political profile in 2014 when he challenged U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican. Roberts beat Orman by 11 percentage points after Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the race.
“We’re obviously going to build on the lessons that we learned in 2014,” Orman said. “We’re getting started earlier this time, which I think will be a real advantage for us.”