Editorials

Greg Orman would bring needed change to the U.S. Senate

U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman has eclipsed incumbent Pat Roberts (background) in that key race in Kansas.
U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman has eclipsed incumbent Pat Roberts (background) in that key race in Kansas. The Associated Press

Independent candidate Greg Orman is vigorously campaigning to oust longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in the deep-red state of Kansas.

For the sake of Kansans and the country, we hope Orman succeeds in this nationally watched race.

Thoughtful and well-versed on crucial issues, Orman is a successful Olathe businessman who has the needed background to work with other senators to handle the huge budgetary problems roiling Congress right now.

But Orman also comprehends the political decisions that must be made to break the destructive gridlock that has made Washington a laughingstock.

Kansans deserve a senator who won’t evaluate issues strictly on a hyper-partisan basis — as Roberts and too many members of both parties tend to do these days. Instead, Orman wants to reduce the dysfunction and approve practical ways to deal with immigration reform, control costs of entitlement programs, pass transportation funding and make meaningful decisions on dozens of other high-profile matters.

Orman isn’t in lockstep with liberal Democratic views, as Roberts ceaselessly claims. Orman doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act, doesn’t support amnesty for undocumented immigrants and supports the Second Amendment. But he’s also practical in realizing the health care law isn’t going to be “repealed and replaced.” He supports a reasonable path to citizenship for immigrants and endorses mandatory background checks for gun owners.

Orman’s pledge to be an independent voice for Kansans and the country is refreshing. It has attracted national media coverage because his race could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. However, much of that inside-baseball speculation is background noise, partly because so many other Senate races could affect the outcome.

In the end, Kansans must send to Washington an elected official who’s ready to solve problems, not allow them to fester.

That’s been Roberts’ game for too much of his 18 years in the Senate. He has become a shrill, unproductive politician who has badly fumbled his chance to be a real leader for Kansas’ priorities. Those priorities include how to reform costly U.S. subsidies for agricultural programs and how to help immigrants who are an essential part of the employment picture in western Kansas become U.S. citizens.

Roberts has gone from a “no” vote on many congressional issues to a “hell, no” vote in recent years, tacking to the hard right while desperately trying to hang on to his seat.

On the campaign trail, Roberts tiresomely brings up the name of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as the main obstacle to getting anything done in the Senate. But a review of votes shows that the Senate, with a Democratic majority and some Republican votes as well, has approved some meaningful legislation in that time.

The Senate passed a farm bill — which Roberts opposed.

To end the costly, GOP-led government shutdown in late 2013, an overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate finally relented on an appropriations bill — which Roberts opposed.

None of these votes, nor many others, have helped Roberts become influential in doing anything positive to deal with America’s challenges.

Orman, by contrast, wants to move the nation off dead center and toward a brighter future. A vote for Greg Orman will help Kansas become part of the solution in Washington and get rid of Roberts, an obstacle to progress for Kansas and this country.

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