Orman campaign treasurer resigns, endorses Kelly, says Kobach must be stopped

photo by: Associated Press

From left, Kansas governor candidates Greg Orman, Laura Kelly and Kris Kobach are pictured in file photos from August 2018.

Independent candidate Greg Orman’s campaign treasurer resigned Tuesday and endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly in the race for Kansas governor, according to the Kelly campaign.

Tim Owens, a former Republican state senator from Overland Park, announced his departure in a news release issued by the Kelly campaign around 2:30 p.m.

“Effective today, I have resigned my position as treasurer for the Orman for Kansas campaign. It is time to unite behind Senator Laura Kelly and stop Kris Kobach,” Owens stated in the release, referring to the Republican candidate.

photo by: AP File Photo/John Hanna

In this Feb. 23, 2012 file photo, then-Sen. Tim Owens, standing to the right, an Overland Park Republican, debates Sen. Terry Bruce, standing to the left, a Hutchinson Republican, at the Statehouse in Topeka.

Kelly and Kobach have been locked in a virtual tie, according to recent polling, while Orman has been polling at around 10 percent.

Many Democrats have viewed Orman as a potential spoiler in the race because he appeals to the same group of moderate Republican and unaffiliated voters that Kelly needs to win the race.

“I’ve been a friend and colleague to Greg Orman for several years,” Owens said in the release. “I supported his run for Senate in 2014 and I until today I supported his run for governor. However, this is a critical election for Kansas. We cannot risk the future of our state.”

Owens said he had to put Kansas first.

“Electing Kris Kobach governor is one of the worst things that could happen to our state. For those of us who lived and worked in the legislature through the dark Brownback years, we know just how damaging a return to those policies will be. And that is exactly what Kobach will do.”

Orman issued a statement saying he accepted Owens’ resignation but that he is not bowing out of the race.

“I wish Tim well, but have told him that my campaign is about the people of Kansas, not about establishment figures in Topeka,” Orman said in the statement. “As I’ve said since day one, I am committed to the tens-of-thousands of voters who support me and who are sick and tired of the status-quo.”

The announcement came just hours before the three major candidates were scheduled to appear in their final debate of the campaign, a live event hosted by KSNW-TV in Wichita.

It also comes exactly one week before Election Day. However, as of 8 a.m. Tuesday, 196,608 voters had already cast their ballots, either in person or by mail, according to the Kansas secretary of state’s office.

Emporia State University political science professor Michael Smith, however, said Owens’ decision could qualify as a game-changer in the election.

“I think it potentially is. We will have to see,” he said in an interview. “Late-deciding voters don’t pay that much attention to inside politics. But it certainly is symbolic of the idea that Democrats at least got to one major Orman supporter with the message that it’s time to pool votes behind Laura Kelly.”

Check back as this story develops.


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