|US Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)|
Much like US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's efforts to reinforce his connections with his Bluegrass State constituents, Roberts is facing more of a fight than in previous elections, and is making up for this perception gap with home-spun commercials.
Roberts has overcome quite a few challenges this election cycle, but may make his reelection chances all but insurmountable this time.
First pushing past a Tea Party challenge from radiologist Milton Wolf, Roberts also had to contend with a Democratic candidate, and a Democrat-turned-Independent. Now the Democratic candidate has dropped out of the race, and the liberal Independent is now running five points ahead of Roberts in one of the deepest, reddest states in the union.
Part of the problem is not just his own campaign challenges, but the negative residuals from incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback, who enacted some of the most sweeping tax and spending cuts in the Sunflower State's history.
Following the 2012 election, Brownback (himself a former US Senator and Presidential candidate), enacted sweeping tax and spending cuts. Cherished programs got the ax, and many in Kansas also feel that the public schools are suffering as a result.
|Governor Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)|
Brownback's forceful support for conservative Republicans in place of moderates enabled him to press this strong free-market, anti-Big Government agenda. Yet the same reforms enraged many of his fellow Republicans in the state legislature and throughout. One hundred Republicans have endorsed Brownback's blue challenger Paul Davis.
Voters are angry, and the church-going Kansans who agree on just about everything conservative are unhappy with Brownback. Trailing consistently by four points for four months, Brownback's flagging campaign is hurting Roberts' reelection hopes, too.
The state which has not elected a Republican US Senator since the 1930s may be sending a liberal Independent to Washington, and despite the best methods and long-term certainties of Brownback's reforms, the Kansas voters may elect his contender because the reforms were too much and too fast.
Republicans are poised to take back the US Senate in 2014, but with some unlikely losses along the away. The GOP must be looking at these prospects and may find themselves saying:
"We're not in Kansas anymore."