Democratic Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor is asking Kansas’ highest court to remove his name from the ballot for U.S. Senate in a race that could tilt the balance of power on Capitol Hill.
Taylor filed a petition with the Kansas Supreme Court late Tuesday, charging that Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach had a conflict of interest when he decided that Taylor’s name should remain on the ballot.
Taylor withdrew from the race last week, boosting independent Greg Orman’s campaign against Republican incumbent Pat Roberts in an unexpectedly close race that could decide which party runs the Senate.
A new poll out this week showed the Roberts-Orman race tight and indicated that Taylor might draw as much as 10 percent of the vote — much of it away from Orman — if his name is on the ballot.
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However, Kobach ruled that Taylor’s name must remain on the ballot because a 1997 law requires withdrawing candidates to declare if they’re “incapable” of serving if elected. Taylor’s withdrawal letter, Kobach said, referenced the law but did not contain the required language.
Taylor contends he didn’t need to supply a reason why he would be incapable of serving in the Senate other than providing a notarized letter in writing that indicated he was withdrawing from the race.
The withdrawal letter, he claims, complied with the law because it cited the specific statute under which he was pulling out of the race.
Taylor also charges Kobach’s ruling is compromised because he has an interest in the race. The court documents point out that the secretary of state is a Roberts supporter and a member of his honorary campaign committee.
Kobach said through a spokesman that he was confident his ruling would stand.
“The statute is clear and Mr. Taylor failed to follow its unambiguous requirements,” Kobach said in a statement. “This should be a straightforward case of statutory interpretation, and the secretary looks forward to making his case in court.”
Leaving his name on the ballot, Taylor said in court documents, will confuse voters who have the right to be “free from misleading ballot information.”
Calling it a matter of “great urgency,” Taylor bypassed the lower courts and filed his lawsuit directly with the state Supreme Court because the ballot must be finalized by Sept. 18.