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Roberts, Brownback hold on in Kansas

 / Updated 
Image: Pat Roberts, Greg Orman
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., left, greets independent candidate Greg Orman, right, before a debate in Overland Park, Kan., Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)Orlin Wagner / AP

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In Kansas, both endangered Republicans overcame difficult reelections to hold on to their seats. In the Senate race, Republican incumbent Pat Roberts overcame independent candidate Greg Orman. And Governor Sam Brownback beat Democrat Paul Davis, defending the seat after a controversial first term.

In what was never supposed to be a competitive race, Roberts had a difficult campaign season. First he was caught off guard by a flawed primary challenger, then he struggled to overcome Independent candidate Greg Orman, who shot into striking range after Democrat Chad Taylor abruptly withdrew from the race.

Roberts' win continued the Republican Party's streak in Kansas as the state has not elected a non-Republican to the Senate since the 1930s.

Throughout the campaign, Roberts attempted to tie Orman, who ran as an Independent, as a liberal. Orman insisted that he will stand for Kansans before any political party, and he declined to say which party he will caucus with if elected.

The Democrats did not formally back Orman, but Democratic-aligned groups, including unions, jumped in.

Roberts was elected to the Senate in 1996 and previously served in the House, beginning in 1981.

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In the gubernatorial race, Republican incumbent Gov. Sam Brownback pulled out a victory despite making a lot of people angry during his first term as Governor of Kansas. His conservative “experiment” was a bit too extreme, even for some Republicans. His leadership left a divide between the moderate and conservative components of the Republican Party, which caused challenges to his reelection bid.

Democratic Paul Davis ran as a moderate and even won the vocal support of some Republicans displeased with Brownback’s tenure. The race became is more of a referendum of Brownback than approval of the Kansas House Democratic Leader, who represents the college town of Lawrence.

- Leigh Ann Caldwell

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