Legal Battle in Kansas Senate Race May Soon Hit Boiling Point

It has become the biggest legal battle in the 2014 elections and it seems to be heating up every day. I am talking about the U.S. Senate race in Kansas, where Democrat Chad Taylor is trying to get off the ballot while Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach is fighting to keep him on.

On September 3, Taylor announced his intentions to withdraw from the race, a move that propelled independent candidate Greg Orman to front-runner status. However, after several news networks around the country, including IVN, reported on how big this was for Orman, Kobach said Taylor had to stay on the ballot because he did not properly verbalize why he would not be able to fulfill the duties of office.

Orman has been endorsed by several local Democratic leaders and organizations. However, he has not only garnered support from Democrats and voters and groups not affiliated with either major party, but Republicans as well. In fact, on the same day Taylor announced he was dropping out of the race, Orman was endorsed by the Traditional Republicans for Common Sense.

Public opinion polls indicate that Sen. Roberts is not a popular incumbent and Orman’s growing popularity makes him a serious threat going into November — especially in a head-to-head contest. Even before Kobach made his decision, some Republicans made it clear that they would challenge Taylor’s withdrawal.

To say Kobach may have been swayed by partisan motives is an understatement. As an honorary member of Roberts’ campaign committee, Taylor has a strong case to make that a conflict of interest exists.

On Tuesday, September 9, Taylor filed a lawsuit with the Kansas Supreme Court to be removed from the ballot. He cited three issues:

  1. The obvious conflict of interest that exists with the secretary of state’s involvement in the incumbent’s campaign.
  2. His letter was properly formatted
  3. His civil liberties, specifically his First Amendment rights, are being jeopardized by Kobach’s decision.

The fun doesn’t stop there, though.

On Wednesday, Kobach filed a notice with the Kansas Supreme Court requesting that the case be heard before a district court first. Further, he demanded that if the court rules Taylor can withdraw from the race, the Democratic Party has to name a replacement in accordance with Kansas law — something the Democratic Party likely has no intention of doing.

As reported on IVN, Kobach does not have a very strong track record when it comes to the state Supreme Court, an obvious motive for wanting the case moved to a lower court. However, this would also prolong the legal challenge, stalling any final decision until after official ballots have been printed out for military personnel overseas and advanced voting — maybe even the general election.

When the election season began, very few thought the Kansas Senate race was going to develop into anything special. Kansas has had Republican senators since the late 1930s and the major news networks weren’t treating Orman like a serious candidate. Only IVN covered his campaign extensively from the very beginning.

Now, the race in Kansas may decide how the scale of power tilts in the U.S. Senate. At the moment, none of the campaigns involved are willing to comment any further on the matter.

Photo Source: AP