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Kansas No Longer A Reliably Red State

JUANA SUMMERS, BYLINE: This is Juana Summers. Nobody would've predict that a deeply-red, conservative state like Kansas would influence control of the Senate. But this year, the politics are more unpredictable, and Republicans here are fighting to keep their jobs. Senator Pat Roberts has represented Kansas in Congress for more than three decades. He's in danger of being unseated by independent businessman, Greg Orman.

CROWD: (Cheering) Let's go, Orman.

SUMMERS: Campaigning in a park, nestled in a residential area, in this Kansas City suburb, Orman focused on the gridlock and hyper-partisanship in Washington hoping to attract moderate Republicans, Democrats and independents.

GREG ORMAN: The message we send will echo for years to come. When the time came to take a stand, Kansans acted bravely and heroically and said enough is enough. We deserve and demand better. We're declaring our independence.

SUMMERS: Independence is what Orman's running on. But the Roberts campaign has spent the last few days focusing on Orman's malleability. This weekend the Senator compared Orman to a high school sophomore. Here is what Roberts had to say about his challenger.

SENATOR PAT ROBERTS: I don't know what to expect from my opponent. He won't say who he's going to caucus with - who he's going to vote for.

SUMMERS: Roberts has also enlisted a number of high-profile surrogates to make the case that Kansas voters should reelect him. Chris Christie, Rick Santorum and Bob Dole have all stumped the state for Roberts in an effort to fire up the base. Juana Summers, NPR News, Prairie Village, Kansas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.
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