Kansas politics, rarely a topic outside the Sunflower State, is now in the national spotlight with a U.S. Senate race that could shape the country's future.
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts and Independent Greg Orman squared off on Wednesday in Overland Park in front of media from across the nation.
Roberts made an urgent plea for a fourth term, saying the Republican Senate majority depends on his re-election.
"The eyes of the nation are on Kansas," Roberts said. "A vote for Pat Roberts is a vote for Republicans to take over the majority and we end the gridlock."
Greg Orman has surged in the polls with less than a month before the November 4 election. The one-time Democrat and now Independent candidate defended his lack of party affiliation.
"I have always been independent minded. Always fiscally responsible and socially tolerant," he explained
Orman has refrained from committing to which party he would caucus with if the majority comes down to him.
Democrats currently control the Senate 55 to 45. With Republicans just six seats away from a Senate majority, an Independent candidate like Orman could determine the balance of power.
Roberts, in the fight for his political life, fired back at Orman during Wednesday showdown.
"I know why he says he's an Independent .. because if he says he's a liberal Democrat you won't vote for him," Roberts said from the podium. "Trying to get Greg Orman's position on any issue is like trying to nail Jell-o to the wall."
Orman said he won't hide behind a party label like his incumbent opponent, who has been in office for 47 years. The challenger compared the current actions by Democrats and Republicans to arguing kids.
He asked voters to take a new path, "Is the government that behaves like two children fighting in the backseat of a driverless car what we want to hand off to future generations? If it is, I'm not your guy."