Candidates would have a much harder time withdrawing from a race after a primary election, but voters would have an easier time casting straight-party ballots under bills that Secretary of State Kris Kobach is urging lawmakers to pass. Kobach appeared before the House Ethics and Elections Committee Wednesday to testify in favor of two bills, including one that he said is a direct response to last year’s controversy over Democrat Chad Taylor’s withdrawal from the U.S. Senate race. “This bill is a direct response to two, what I believe to be erroneous, decisions by Kansas courts interpreting Kansas election law,” Kobach said. Taylor, the Shawnee County district attorney, dropped out of the U.S. Senate race on Sept. 3, a month after winning the Democratic primary. That cleared the way for independent candidate Greg Orman to be the sole challenger to incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican.
Kobach challenged Taylor’s withdrawal under a 1997 law that says candidates can only drop out if they die before the election, or if they declare that they would be incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected. Taylor’s written request to withdraw made no such declaration, but it did reference the statute that says there must be one.
The Kansas Supreme Court later ruled that citing the statute was sufficient and ordered his name taken off the ballot.