A three-judge Shawnee County panel didn’t decide Monday whether Kansas Democrats should be required to fill the vacancy left when Chad Taylor dropped out of the closely contested U.S. Senate campaign against Sen. Pat Roberts, a three-term Republican. The court challenge seeking to force Democrats to fill the vacancy hit a stumbling block Monday when David Orel, the man who filed the suit, failed to show up for his day in court. The judges didn’t rule on whether the suit was still viable in light of the plaintiff’s absence, preferring instead to hear more arguments before making a ruling they indicated would come before 2 p.m. Wednesday — the time Secretary of State Kris Kobach says ballots absolutely must have candidate names to be sent to printers.
Orel, a Kansas City, Kan., man whose lawsuit said he wanted the right to vote for a Democrat in the Senate race, wasn’t in the Shawnee County District Courtroom when his case was heard, causing the three-judge panel to break and decide whether the case was still viable.
The three district court judges, assigned the case by the Kansas Supreme Court, intensely questioned Orel’s attorney, Thomas Haney, about his client’s absence. Haney told the judges that reporters had badgered his client at all hours of the day, and that Orel was declining to come to court.
Haney noted the courtroom was crowded with news reporters and photographers but said “the entire state is not hanging on the results of this.”