A three-judge panel in Topeka ruled Wednesday that Kansas Democrats need not nominate a candidate for the 2014 Senate race.
The ruling is expected to help independent Senate candidate Greg Orman’s campaign against incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.
Chad Taylor, the Democrat nominated for the seat in August, dropped from the race Sept. 3. The Kansas Supreme Court later ruled the withdrawal followed state rules.
But David Orel of Kansas City, Kan., then sued the state’s Democrats, arguing Kansas law required the party to nominate a replacement for the ballot.
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The judges disagreed in a ruling released Wednesday afternoon.
“When a candidate vacancy occurs after a primary, it is the judgment of the political party as to whether to challenge, or not, for the office by assessing both candidate availability and viability and, as well, its own party’s best interests,” the judges said in a unanimous ruling.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Orel would appeal. The court said he would have to pay the costs of the proceeding.
But the deadline for printing general election ballots is near. In court papers, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Wednesday was the deadline for printing the ballots.
There was some indication that deadline might slip to Thursday, but county-based election officials have expressed increasing impatience with the delay.
The court’s decision is expected to help Orman because anti-Roberts votes can, in theory, coalesce around his candidacy.