LJWorld.com weblogs Elections 2014
Orman regrets giving to Akin as other donations come under scrutiny
Independent U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman said Saturday that he regrets having contributed money in 2006 to Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican who later said that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant.
"I had a friend call me and ask me to support a congressman who was on the Armed Services Committee, good on veterans issues, good on armed services issues, and I made a donation," Orman told reporters after Saturday's Kansas State Fair debate against Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. "Obviously I was horrified by the statements he made and wish that were something I could take back, but I couldn't."
According to campaign finance records, Orman contributed $2,000 to Akin's 2006 campaign for the U.S. House. Akin made his "legitimate rape" comment during a television interview in 2012 when he was the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri against Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Ironically, it's McCaskill who may have played the most pivotal role in helping Orman this year by counseling the Democratic candidate Chad Taylor just before he dropped out of the race.
Orman's past contributions have come under scrutiny, in part because they constitute the only public records that indicate his political leanings. Orman has never held elected office, although he was briefly a Democratic candidate for the same Senate seat the last time it was up for election in 2008.
During Saturday's debate, Roberts continually hammered Orman for his previous contributions to Democrats, most notably Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, whom Roberts mentioned in response to nearly every question.
In 2007, Orman donated $1,000 to Reid's re-election campaign. That same year, he also gave $4,600 each to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
During the debate, Orman said he had previously been registered with both parties, and had given money to candidates from both parties, but had been disappointed by both. He noted that one of his last partisan contributions, in 2010, was $2,000 to Republican Scott Brown's Senate campaign in Massachusetts.
That year he also gave money to Bill Halter, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in Arkansas.
But Roberts, who recently brought in two national GOP consultants to run his embattled campaign, now is making the race a referendum on Reid, the person whom Roberts blames for blocking Republican bills and amendments in the Senate.
"I'm the only one on this stage who can make a Republican majority, put Harry Reid out to pasture and get things done," Roberts said at one point in the debate.
Turning the race into a referendum on another state's senator may be risky, according to some recent polls. The independent firm Rasmussen Reports found recently that 20 percent of the voters they surveyed nationwide didn't know enough about Reid to offer an opinion of him. A Gallup poll in April said 22 percent have never heard of him.
The single most unpopular figure in Congress, according to Rasmussen, is House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has a 60 percent unfavorable rating nationwide. But that's only marginally worse than former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is in second place with a 56 percent unfavorable rating.
But Roberts' new campaign manager, Corry Bliss, says it's a logical strategy, given the nature of this year's race.
"It is very relevant when this is a race to determine who is in charge of the Senate," Bliss said. He said that as often as Roberts mentions Reid, Orman talks about gridlock in Washington, "and Harry Reid is the reason why there's gridlock in Washington today."