The 2014 senatorial race in Kansas was one of several races to follow an unusual trajectory, although it ended with the reelection of the incumbent.
Kansas is one of the more Republican states, and it would seem that Pat Roberts, who had been senator since 1996, and served as a representative since 1980, would have a clear path to re-election. His Democratic candidate, Chad Taylor, who had no previous political experience, didn't seem to have much of a chance against him. Earlier in the year, Greg Orman, a Kansas businessman who also lacked political experience, entered the race as an independent, and quickly became a credible candidate. Although Orman did not state a political affiliation, he was seen to be more liberal than Roberts, so Chad Taylor withdrew from the race, even going to the Kansas Supreme Court to get his name removed from the ballots. With Taylor out of the race, it became a close race between Orman and Roberts, with the polling showing them even.
It was still an open question which party Orman would choose to caucus with if he won the election, although the guess was that he would caucus with the Democrats, like Maine's Senator Angus King. However, on election night, Roberts won a relatively easy victory, winning reelection by an 11 point margin. Orman only managed to win three counties in the Kansas City region. There are several possible reasons that Orman lost: after the novelty of having an independent candidate wore off, people were perhaps wary of what he would be like once elected to office. This is especially the case because while Roberts might be too conservative for some Kansas voters, Orman might have been much too liberal. Or, more simply, it could just be the fact that Roberts was a conservative candidate running in a conservative state, and with the power of incumbency.
While there is often much talk of independent candidates entering a race and establishing some type of strategic transcendence, it is often an idea that is more palatable as an idea, than as a reality. After this event-filled election, Kansas will safely be returning to the status quo.