He was up. He was down. At week’s end, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts was back up, positioned again as the favorite to win six more years.
But he had to live through the most tumultuous week in state politics since Bob Dole abandoned his Senate seat in 1996. If Roberts is in a neck brace at Saturday’s State Fair debate in Hutchinson as a result of whiplash, you’ll understand.
Democrat Chad Taylor’s name apparently will remain on the November ballot. That may be all Roberts needs to slow down the freight train that is independent Greg Orman.
The reason is now well known: Orman and Taylor together split the anti-Roberts vote. That should be enough to propel the senator to another win.
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It’s crystal clear that partisans agree with this, given how vigorously each side is fighting. Both sides are playing political games to the hilt, and who can blame them?
This controversy could turn control of the U.S. Senate.
Here’s what else we learned:
Democrats choked. That Taylor, the Shawnee County district attorney, failed to secure an iron-clad guarantee that his withdrawal letter met every conceivable legal requirement is beyond belief.
One theory suggests that Taylor, 40, may have been concerned about not undermining a future re-election run by stipulating exactly why he was “incapable” of serving. You can hear a future opponent declaring that if Taylor was incapable of Senate service, why could he handle another term as D.A.?
Taylor apparently received a verbal nod that the withdrawal letter sufficed. With so much on the line, Democrats should’ve gotten a lot more.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is keeping Taylor on the ballot and who’s up for re-election this November, may wind up as the biggest loser. By taking such a blatantly partisan stance, the state’s chief elections officer has embroiled himself in more controversy in what’s already a narrow race with Democrat Jean Schodorf.
That Kobach could turn out to be Roberts’ savior is richly ironic. It was Kobach who early on presented the biggest re-election threat to the senator as a potential challenger.
Instead, Kobach endorsed Roberts in a sign that he was morphing from Lone Ranger to team player. Now, he’s taking another one for the team.
What a year. Who would’ve guessed that both Roberts and Gov. Sam Brownback would be in such danger?
To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.