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Politics, Elections and Government

Kansas High Court Orders Democrat's Name Off U.S. Senate Ballot

The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered that the name of the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Kansas be removed from the ballot. 

The Democrat, Chad Taylor, announced he was dropping out of the race two weeks ago, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Taylor had failed to meet the requirements of a state law allowing candidates to drop out.

Taylor had sought to drop out with a notarized letter saying he was withdrawing “pursuant to” the law. The letter, however, did not explicitly state that he was  “incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected” as the law stipulates.

In its ruling late Thursday afternoon, the high court said that Taylor nonetheless complied with the statute and that Kobach had no discretion to refuse to remove his name from the ballot.

In a per curiam decision not attributable to any individual judge, the court ruled that “the plain meaning of ‘pursuant to’ … contained in Taylor’s letter effectively declares that he is incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected.”

The court declined to act on Kobach’s further contention that a ruling in favor of Taylor would require the Kansas Democratic Party State Committee to name his replacement nominee.

“The Kansas Democratic Party is not a party to this original action, and this court does not issue advisory opinions,” the court stated.

The ruling clears the way for independent candidate Greg Orman to take on three-term incumbent Republican Pat Roberts without splitting the anti-Roberts vote.  

Recent polls show Orman, a wealthy businessman, leading Roberts in a head to head race. Republicans had expected Roberts to cruise to reelection.  

Kansas has reliably elected Republicans to the Senate for 80 years, but the surprisingly close contest in Kansas will make a GOP Senate takeover that much more difficult.

Republicans need to gain six Senate seats to become the majority in that chamber, putting the Senate race in Kansas in the national spotlight. 

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