The Democratic nominee for Senate in Kansas has dropped out of the race and deferred to a wealthy independent candidate, possibly threatening incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts and putting his assumed safe Republican seat in play.

Roberts is recovering from a tough August GOP primary, and some Republicans say he hasn't had enough time to consolidate the support of his party. But with his weak Democratic competition, Chad Taylor, clearing the field for independent Greg Orman, Roberts now appears to have a race on his hands.

"He's got a problem," a GOP operative told the Washington Examiner Wednesday evening.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and both he and the NRSC are likely to get involved in the race to bolster Roberts. The GOP is aiming to win control of the Senate in November. Losing a seat in a GOP state like Kansas would complicate its goal of flipping six Democratic seats and, with them, Senate control.

The Topeka Capital Journal newspaper first reported the news.