The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday over whether the Democrat who wants to drop out of the U.S. Senate race must stay on the ballot, a dispute that could have a big effect on Republicans recapturing a Senate majority. Democrat Chad Taylor, a county prosecutor from Topeka, threw the race into chaos earlier this month when he announced he wanted to be taken off the ballot, without giving an explanation. Taylor’s exit seemed to set up a clear two-person race between the three-term incumbent, Republican Pat Roberts, and wealthy independent Greg Orman, who many believe has a chance to unseat Roberts head to head. The unusual move by Taylor, apparently at the urging of fellow Democrats who worried that a three-person race would split the anti-Roberts vote, turned the race into one of the hottest campaigns of the season.
After Taylor’s announcement, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a conservative Republican who backs Roberts, declared that Taylor didn’t comply with a state election law limiting when nominees can withdraw. Taylor petitioned the Supreme Court to remove his name from the ballot.
Kansas law says party nominees can have their names removed from the ballot if they declare that they will be incapable of fulfilling the duties of the offices they seek. Taylor’s letter cited the law by statute number but didn’t specifically say he wouldn’t be capable of serving.