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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Sarah Palin and other high-profile Republicans are coming to Kansas this week to boost Sen. Pat Roberts' chances of re-election in an unexpectedly crucial race for the GOP, while a well-funded television ad began airing Tuesday targeting his opponent.
Palin, Alaska's former governor and the 2008 vice presidential nominee, is set to attend a pancake breakfast Thursday with the three-term Kansas senator in Independence. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 presidential nominee, will join Roberts on Wednesday in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will visit Wichita on Monday.
Their stops follow follows Roberts' appearances Monday and Tuesday with former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, also a past GOP presidential candidate.
The race shifted when Democrats successfully withdrew their candidate from the race, leaving independent Greg Orman, a businessman and co-founder of a private equity firm, as Roberts' lone major challenger.
Orman running as a centrist, but Republicans are trying to paint the 45-year-old as a liberal Democrat. Freedom Partners Action Fund — a political action committee with ties to billionaire businessmen and GOP donors Charles and David Koch — began airing a 30-second ad on Tuesday trying to tie Orman to President Barack Obama.
"The Republican Party is uniting around Pat Roberts because he is the only candidate in this race who will ensure (Democratic Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid is no longer in control of the Senate," Roberts campaign manager Corry Bliss said Tuesday.
Republicans need to pick up six seats to regain control the Senate. The GOP has held both of Kansas' Senate seats since 1938, but Roberts suffered during the primary because of his long political career.
"Senator Roberts bringing a bunch of his politician friends to Kansas isn't going to change anyone's mind," Orman campaign manager Jim Jonas said in a statement. "They want an independent voice in the Senate."
The back-and-forth came as the Kansas Supreme Court decided not to rule on a request to force Democrats to name a candidate.
The court last week allowed Democrat Chad Taylor to remove his name from the ballot, but the ruling was immediately challenged by a Democratic voter who demanded Taylor be replaced. The high court said Tuesday that the voter's petition didn't contain enough evidence and sent it back to a lower court.
The voter's son works on Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's re-election campaign.
Greg Orman campaign: http://www.ormanforsenate.com/
Pat Roberts campaign: http://www.robertsforsenate.com
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