Growing Field

Growing Field

Hutchnews - Jason Probst

Approximately 30 percent of Kansas voters are registered as unaffiliated, but in most elections they end up voting for a candidate from one of the major parties.

Olathe businessman Greg Orman hopes to change that trend by collecting at least 5,000 signatures by Aug. 4 to earn a place on the November ballot as an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Pat Roberts.

Kansans should welcome the addition of an independent candidate for elected office. Any effort that can expand voters’ options is worthwhile. And such a candidate provides the opportunity to bring the discussion closer the middle and away from the fringes where primary elections typically live. Such a candidate can help keep party candidates from working to appeal to the extremes during the primary, only to move toward the middle during the general election.

At first glance, Orman appears to bring some weight to an independent ticket, which often lacks substance. He is a successful businessman, a longtime Kansan who isn’t beholden to a party machine and a candidate whose platform doesn’t appear to be focused on a single issue.

Whether voters plan to support an independent candidate in the general election or stick with their favorite party’s candidates, it’s at least worth supporting any effort that expands voter choices. All too often, Kansans are left with empty spaces on the ballot, and too many races in this state go unchallenged, giving the lone candidate an easy path to victory. Democracy doesn’t work as it should when voters aren’t given viable choices across a wide spectrum of ideas.

To be sure, Orman will have a tough road to unseat one of the party candidates and in particular a senator who has held his seat for as many years as Roberts. But this election is shaping up to be an interesting one with Roberts facing a hard-right primary challenge from Milton Wolf, and Chad Taylor and Patrick Wiesner vying for the Democratic nomination.

Add in a viable independent candidate in Greg Orman, and this could bring life to a senate seat that for too long has been unquestionably handed to the incumbent.

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