© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kansas Senate Race Is Battle Of the Ballot


Democrat Chad Taylor's name will stay on the ballot for the U.S. Senate from Kansas, despite his withdrawal from the race earlier this week.

Republicans, in the odd predicament of fighting to keep a Democrat on the November ballot on Thursday, won a legal challenge decided by Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kobach sided with his fellow Republicans, who argued that state law requires that anyone trying to withdraw from the ballot must state the reason why he or she couldn’t serve.

"Taylor did not declare that he is incapable of fulfilling his duties of U.S. senator if elected," Kobach said.

But Taylor was adamant about removal from the race. In a statement Thursday, he said he drafted the letter only after receiving help from the secretary of state’s office, which counseled him on the proper wording.

“Upon confirming that my letter would remove my name from the ballot, I presented identification, signed the notary ledger, and signed the letter before a secretary of state employee notarized it,” Taylor said. “My candidacy in this race was terminated yesterday.”

The GOP sought to split the moderate and liberal votes by keeping Taylor on the ballot, helping incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts gather more votes, said Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party.

“Even if Mr. Taylor decides not to campaign at all, the very fact that his name’s on the ballot will prove to Sen. Roberts’ advantage," Barker said.

But the better opponent for Roberts is independent Greg Orman, a well-funded businessman who has bested Roberts in some polls. Roberts had a bruising primary battle and now faces an equally difficult election in a very red state that is tiring of some of its leaders.

For more than three hours Wednesday night, Taylor’s name was off the sample ballot, but it was later replaced after the state Republican party raised its objections, said Samantha Poetter, an elections official with the Kansas Secretary of State’s office.

The GOP hopes to dilute the vote by keeping Taylor's name on the ballot, splitting the Democrats and moderate Republicans who may want to vote for Greg Orman, an Independent candidate who is topping Roberts in some polls.

A call for comment from the Kansas Democratic Party was not returned.

Meanwhile, the national Republican Party announced Thursday that it is sending in a longtime strategist to take over the Roberts campaign, as early as this weekend, according to the New York Times.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.