Democrat Chad Taylor’s name won’t be on the ballot for U.S. Senate. But Secretary of State Kris Kobach is determined that another Democrat will be. Minutes after the Kansas Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision overturning Kobach’s decision to keep Taylor on the ballot, Kobach declared the state’s Democratic Party must convene its state committee and choose another nominee by Sept. 26. Democratic leaders did not have an immediate response to that, though party chair Joan Wagnon said earlier in the week that “until the court tells me to do something, I’m not going to anything.” The court said the Democratic Party was not part of the case and did not rule on whether it had to appoint a replacement. The outcome of the dispute and the race could affect whether the Republican Party can recapture control of the U.S. Senate. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take the Senate majority from Democrats, and Kansas is one of about a dozen races nationally that could determine the outcome.
Taylor’s withdrawal gives a better-funded challenger, independent candidate Greg Orman, an opportunity to challenge U.S. Pat Roberts more directly. Polls have shown a tight race between Roberts and Orman.
The court battle occurred after Kobach, a Republican and member of Roberts’ honorary campaign committee, decided Taylor failed to follow a Kansas statute that requires candidates to declare that they are incapable to serve when they withdraw.
The court rejected Kobach’s interpretation that Taylor’s withdrawal letter, which asked that his name be withdrawn ‘pursuant to’ the statute, did not constitute a declaration. “So Kobach offers no position on what is meant by ‘pursuant to’,” the court stated in its opinion. “He simply denies the phrase is sufficient to meet the statutory requirement that a candidate declare he or she is ‘incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected.’”