Republicans Will Fight to Keep a Democrat on the Ballot in Kansas

Update 9/4/14, 1:20 PM PDT: Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced Thursday that Chad Taylor must remain on the ballot because he failed to declare that he would be unable to perform the job if elected.

 

Ironic, is it not?

As reported on IVN, Democrat Chad Taylor announced on Wednesday, September 3, that he was dropping out of the U.S. Senate race in Kansas. As reported on many networks, including IVN, this is huge news for independent Greg Orman because he is now a much bigger threat to Sen. Pat Roberts’ incumbency.

According to a Public Policy Polling survey published on August 19, Roberts led all challengers in the 4-man race (Libertarian Randall Batson was included in the survey as well). Though still relatively early in the race, Orman polled at 23 percent with all four names listed, which is pretty good for an independent candidate.

However, when matched in a head-to-head contest, Orman had a 10-point lead over the incumbent, 43 percent to 33 percent. This is mostly due to the fact that Orman and Taylor split the anti-incumbency vote.

With an approval rating of just 27 percent, Sen. Pat Roberts would face a tough race if it came down to just two candidates. He would fare better in a head-to-head contest against Chad Taylor because Taylor is a Democrat in a still GOP-friendly state and he wasn’t raising any money.

Orman, on the other hand, is an independent candidate with support from not only voters and groups not affiliated with either major party, but Democrats, and Republicans not happy with the way Roberts has represented Kansas. On the same day Taylor announced he was dropping out of the race, the Traditional Republicans for Common Sense officially endorsed Orman’s campaign, showing just how broad his appeal is in the state.

While Orman supporters and the campaign are excited about the chances he now has at becoming Kansas’ next senator, nothing is official just yet.

According to Politico, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is expected to determine on Thursday whether or not Chad Taylor’s withdrawal from the race is, in fact, legal. GOP attorney Clayton Barker said the law requires candidates to declare themselves “incapable of fulfilling the duties of office” and it is now up to Kobach, a Republican, to decide if Taylor followed the law.

The law also requires that in the event of a vacancy, the candidate’s party (in this case the Democratic Party) must select a replacement. However, there is no indication that the Democrats are planning to do this as some Democratic groups and political leaders indicated they wanted Taylor to drop out of the race.

Barker made it clear to Politico that the GOP is ready to challenge a decision that would allow Taylor to withdraw from the race. Regardless of the decision, this could turn into the biggest legal battle of the 2014 elections as Republicans don’t want to lose seats when they are predicted to possibly pick up enough to take control of the Senate, and Democrats don’t want this to happen.

Some Republicans have accused Greg Orman of conspiring with national Democrats, even though there is no evidence to support such an accusation. Perhaps this is further evidence that major parties do not know how to run against independents, especially in a head-to-head scenario.

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Photo: Sen. Pat Roberts / AP