Democrat Chad Taylor’s lawsuit against Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be heard by the Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday in an unprecedented case that could help decide the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Never before has a major party candidate sued to be removed from an election in Kansas. Taylor, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, wants his name off the November ballot and has called in one of the Democratic Party’s top attorneys for help. Kobach ruled that Taylor failed to properly withdraw because he did not include a declaration that he is incapable to serve in a letter that he submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office on Sept. 3, the deadline to withdraw.
Republicans see Taylor’s attempt to withdraw as a not-so-covert plan by national Democrats to boost Greg Orman’s independent candidacy against Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in November. Democrats say that Kobach, a supporter of Roberts, has overstepped his bounds as secretary of state to keep Taylor on the ballot against his will.
The question before the court is relatively simple, according to Mark Johnson, an election law expert who is a partner with the Kansas City-based law firm Dentons and a lecturer at the University of Kansas. “The question there is: What is compliance? Is it absolute letter perfect or is it substantial compliance that clearly demonstrates the candidate’s intent?” Johnson said.