Kansas Senate Race Is Big —and Now Very Confusing

Democrat wants to drop out to help independent, but state won't let him

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 4, 2014 5:52 PM CDT

(Newser) – This much is clear: Republican Pat Roberts of Kansas hopes to keep his Senate seat in the midterm elections this year. After that, things get fuzzy. Heading into this week, Roberts faced a strong challenge from independent candidate Greg Orman and a lesser one from Democratic candidate Chad Taylor. Yesterday, Taylor declared that he was dropping out of the race, a move seen as bad news for Roberts because polls show him losing a one-on-one matchup with Orman. Taylor didn't explain his withdrawal, but the speculation is that Democrats asked him to step down to increase the chances that Roberts (and thus the GOP) would lose the seat.

Today, however, Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach declared that Taylor must remain in the race, reports the Kansas City Star. He cites a technicality, saying that Taylor filled out his paperwork incorrectly by failing to declare that he would be "incapable" of serving, as state law specifies. (Taylor can't simply resubmit, because yesterday was the deadline to withdraw.) Democrats say Kobach, who has endorsed Roberts, is playing politics with the move, though it's unclear whether the party or Taylor will file a formal legal challenge. “This could well end up in court, and I don’t have a good sense for how the courts would rule on this question,” an election-law expert tells the newspaper. Given the stakes, this is no small matter, points out Politico. "The decision could undermine efforts to unseat Roberts and potentially rewrite the narrative of the 2014 midterms."

Greg Orman, the independent candidate.
Greg Orman, the independent candidate.   (AP Photo, Topeka Capital-Journal, Thad Allton)
Chad Taylor, the once and maybe current Democratic candidate.
Chad Taylor, the once and maybe current Democratic candidate.   (AP Photo/John Hanna)
Sen. Pat Roberts, the GOP incumbent in Kansas.
Sen. Pat Roberts, the GOP incumbent in Kansas.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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