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Third-party Senate candidates worry GOP.

Byline: Charles Babington

WASHINGTON -- Caught off-guard by a third-party candidate, veteran GOP Sen. Pat Roberts replaced his campaign manager and summoned new aides to try to revive his re-election bid in a state that should be easy for Republicans.

It's a rare achievement by independent candidate Greg Orman, although it's far from certain he can oust Roberts on Nov. 4. Still, his story might inspire a pizza deliveryman in North Carolina, a ''libertarian cop'' in Kentucky and an Alaska candidate named Fish who would love to make their own splashes as third-party Senate candidates.

Orman, who has called himself a Democrat and a Republican in the past, was doing so well in this year's Kansas race as an independent that the Democratic nominee, Chad Taylor, abruptly canceled his candidacy this week.

With that, the conservative state landed on the list of conceivable, if improbable, Democratic gains in the national battle for Senate control.

Republicans must pick up six seats in November to win the majority, and the new uncertainty over Roberts' fate complicates their drive.

Kansas Republicans, worried about Orman possibly consolidating anti-Roberts sentiment, challenged the legality of Taylor's withdrawal.

The Kansas secretary of state said Taylor's name must remain on the ballot.

In at least a few cases, third-party candidates have played significant roles.

In Montana's 2012 Senate race, Sen. Jon Tester faced a tough challenge from Republican Denny Rehberg.

National Democrats mailed flyers supporting Libertarian candidate Dan Cox in a bid to steer conservatives away from Rehberg.

Cox won 7 percent of the vote, to Rehberg's 45 percent and Tester's 49 percent.

Senate races that might be affected by third-party candidates this year include:

KENTUCKY

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes will need help to beat GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell in this Republican-leaning state, and she hopes a tiny slice might come from Harrodsburg police officer David Patterson.

ALASKA

First-term Democratic Sen. Mark Begich faces a challenge from Republican Dan Sullivan, a former state attorney general. Obama lost Alaska badly in 2008 and 2012, and Begich will welcome any votes that third-party candidates can take from Sullivan. Help conceivably could come from Libertarian candidate Mark Fish. Like many third-party candidates, however, Fish has a dubious record. In 2012 he left Alaska's Human Rights Commission when it was learned he wrote a poorly spelled blog that said ''radical'' feminists wanted to ''eliminate men from the face of the earth.''

Sullivan got a big break when Joe Miller, Alaska's 2010 Republican Senate nominee, agreed not to run as a third-party candidate this year.

GEORGIA

Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue want the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Nunn hopes Libertarian nominee Amada Swafford will pull some votes from Perdue.

Swafford, a paralegal, supports the ''fair tax,'' which would replace all federal income taxes with a broad sales tax.

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Author:Babington, Charles
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1U9AK
Date:Sep 6, 2014
Words:471
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