A super-PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Nev.) spent big money late in the 2014 midterm cycle on behalf of independent candidate Greg Orman in his bid to oust incumbent Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call Bob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Kan.).
According to a Bloomberg News analysis of Federal Election Commission reports, the Senate Majority PAC, run by allies of Reid's, funneled $1.5 million to two PACs backing Orman. The checks were cut late enough in the cycle that Democrats knew the contributions would remain a secret until after the election.
Orman, a businessman and political outsider, ran as an independent and said he'd caucus with whoever won the majority. He was surprisingly competitive against Roberts in the deep red state, after the Democratic candidate dropped out.
Roberts sought to brand Orman as a Democrat during the campaign. He ended up winning handily, but polls in the final weeks of the campaign showed a close race.
Orman’s surprising surge drew the attention of national Republicans at a time when the Senate majority was still up in the air. Republicans rushed to the state to back Roberts out of fear that an embarrassing loss might cost them their best chance at a Senate majority in years.
The money from Reid’s PAC shows Democrats saw a late opportunity to take out a Republican in a state that wasn’t previously on their map.