Bob Dole Tries To Rescue GOP In Kansas As Another Poll Shows Pat Roberts Losing

With Pat Roberts’ Senate campaign, not to mention the rest of the GOP statewide ticket, in serious trouble, former Senator Bob Dole is heading home to try to save things:

It has been a rough two-and-a-half weeks for Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, a three-term Republican facing his toughest fight for re-election since arriving in Washington in 1981.

Roberts, who survived a Republican primary challenge, now finds himself unexpectedly locked in an even more competitive general election fight.

But even as he pushes back against criticism that he has been in Washington too long, Roberts is doubling down on his longevity. He’s set to get a helping hand from a golden name in Kansas politics: Bob Dole.

“The battleground for control of the Senate is now Kansas,” Dole, 91, told ABC News. “I think Roberts is going to win.”

Dole, once a staple of the state and national political scene who served as Senate majority leader and lost to Bill Clinton in a 1996 presidential run, will be campaigning for both Roberts and Gov. Sam Brownback going into the midterm elections.

Dole set the record as the longest-serving Republican leader in Congress before he retired in 1996, and is wrapping up a “thank-you” tour that he said will have brought him to every one of Kansas’ 105 counties by the end of October.

Dole, who’s special counsel at the law firm of Alston & Bird in Washington, D.C., said he will also be shooting a commercial for Roberts, and will meet him on the campaign trail starting with an event in Dodge City Monday.


The Democratic candidate, Chad Taylor, announced his withdrawal from the race Sept. 3, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach came forward one day later saying Taylor hadn’t made the appropriate case for his name to be removed.

The case came to the state’s Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled in favor of Taylor. Kobach said he would give the state’s Democratic Party a week to name a new candidate and would not be sending overseas ballots like the state originally scheduled for Friday, according to The Associated Press. If they refuse, Kobach said he would review legal options.

Without a Democrat on the ballot to potentially split the vote, some Republicans fear Roberts could be facing an uphill battle. Republicans have since resorted to painting Orman as a donkey in sheep’s clothing.

In a statement released after the decision, Roberts’ campaign manager Corry Bliss accused Democrats of trying to unfairly manipulate the race.

“This is not only a travesty to Kansas voters, but it’s a travesty to the judicial system and our electoral process,” Bliss said.

And Dole is chiming in, too.

“The guy is a Democrat masquerading as an Independent,” Dole told ABC News. “He registered to run as a Democrat in 2007.”

Orman has said he is a moderate and doesn’t know which party he would caucus with, but he has also said he supports neither Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid nor Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But Dole said Kansans shouldn’t buy it.

“Someone said to me that Orman said he wanted to be a politician like Bob Dole,” Dole said. “I’m Bob Dole, and I can tell you that Greg Orman is not Bob Dole.”

Dole’s trip comes in the wake of yesterday’s decision by the Kansas Supreme Court allowing Democratic nominee Chad Taylor to be removed from the ballot and yet another poll showing that Roberts is losing to Orman:

Other recent polls show Orman faring much better with Taylor gone. A Sept 17 Fox News poll gave Orman a sizable advantage, 48 percent to 42 percent, without Taylor on the ballot. Democratic firm Public Policy Polling put Orman up 41 percent to 34 percent with Taylor on the ballot in their Sept. 16 poll. A Sept. 8 Survey USA poll found Orman up with a 1-point lead, 37 percent to 36 percent, if Taylor were still on the ballot.

In addition to the Senate race, Kansas Republicans are also in trouble in the Governor’s race where first-term Governor Sam Brownback is trailing Democratic nominee State Representative Paul Davis. Additionally, there are reports that Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Tea Party favorite who helped author Arizona’s immigration law several years ago, may also be struggling in his re-election bid. Will Kansas’s favorite son be able to turn things around for the GOP? Only time will tell, but given the situation the party is in it’s certainly worth a shot.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. John Peabody says:

    “Someone said to me that Orman said he wanted to be a politician like Bob Dole,” Dole said. “I’m Bob Dole, and I can tell you that Greg Orman is not Bob Dole.”

    That’s almost a cliche of the Bob Dole impressions that people did in the 90s. Maybe we could get Dan Aykroyd to fill in.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    …a golden name in Kansas politics: Bob Dole.

    Is he, really? It’s been along time.

  3. stonetools says:

    Weren’t the latest set of Republicans laughing at Dole and dismissing him as yesterday’s RINO when he tried to get them to vote in favor of the UN Treaty on Disabilities?

    –Bob Dole appears in a wheelchair on the floor of the Senate hoping for a vote from the Senate in favor of ratifying the same UN Disabilities Treaty that has been ratified by 126 other countries, but unfortunately Republicans stood in the way.

    If I was Dole, I would tell the Republicans to kiss my behind. Twice.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools: He’d be entitled.

  5. KansasMom says:

    @gVOR08: He’s still beloved by this state. Hell, I’m a liberal and I still have a ton of respect for the man. The problem is that all Dole does is remind moderates that Republicans like him, people who know how to compromise and get stuff, are obsolete. Which helps Orman, Davis and Jean Schodorf, former Republican turned Democrat who has a good shot at taking out the sleazy Kobach.

  6. michael reynolds says:


    I agree. If I was Orman’s campaign chief, ten seconds after Dole spoke I’d have an ad up saying, “Dole is what the party used to be and is no longer. If there’s an heir to Bob Dole it’s me, Greg Orman.”

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    So a guy who has not lived in Kansas for years is coming into help out a politician who has not lived in Kansas for years. Why does this not compute?

  8. ernieyeball says:

    So a guy who has not lived in Kansas for years is coming into help out a politician who has not lived in Kansas for years. Why does this not compute?

    I spent more than enough time working on the telephone lines in Gove County KS in the vicinity of Castle Rock to understand how long term absence from the Sunflower State could be therapeutic.
    It is still a dust bowl.

  9. Anonne says:

    I’m more curious about who called in the favor.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I used to have respect for Bob Dole as a man who put what is good for his country above what is good for his party. Another one bites the dust.

  11. Lewis Elliott says:

    Why don’t the Republicans go into the Democratic bag of tricks and have a liberal Republican run as a democrat?