Political drama is usually reserved for critical swing states in national politics, but this year's U.S. Senate race in Kansas continues to have surprises at every turn.
On September 3, Chad Taylor (D) announced his withdraw from the race and requested that his name be removed from the ballot. Taylor's senate bid was desperately underfunded and the three-way race was giving the Republican incumbent Pat Roberts a substantial lead by plurality.
Several local Democratic leaders had already endorsed independent candidate Greg Orman and it was expected that Taylor would eventually exit the race.
Kris Kobach, the Republican secretary of state, ruled that Taylor could not be removed from the ballot because his request lacked specific verbiage that indicated that he would be unable to perform the duties of the office if elected. This was seen as largely a partisan move designed to try to split the anti-incumbent vote.
In reality, this has been a hyper-technicality on Kobach's part that is very likely to be overturned in the courts. Taylor's withdrawal stated that he "...request my name be withdrawn from the ballot, pursuant to KSA 25-306b(b)." The law cited was the part of the legislation that pertained to being unable to perform the duties if elected.
Taylor petitioned the Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday, citing three issues: that his letter was properly formatted, that Kris Kobach has a substantial conflict of interest as an honorary member of Roberts' campaign committee, and that Taylor's civil liberties are being jeopardized by being conscripted to run for office.
It's anyone's guess how the Kansas Supreme Court will rule, but there is a track history of rulings against Gov. Brownback and Kobach -- specifically on cases involving the interpretation of state law. This would indicate that they are currently out of favor with the high court and it is likely that Taylor's case will be allowed to proceed.
Even with Taylor still on the ballot, a new SurveyUSA/KSN poll gives independent Orman a 1-point lead, with Taylor still receiving 10-points. Regardless of the outcome of this case, Orman needs to consolidate Taylor's supporters and gather the anti-incumbent Republican vote to win in November.
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