Yael T. Abouhalkah

Feisty Claire McCaskill targets hijinks of Kris Kobach, GOP in Roberts-Orman Senate race

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, has weighed in on the Kansas Senate race pitting Republican Pat Roberts against independent Greg Orman.
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, has weighed in on the Kansas Senate race pitting Republican Pat Roberts against independent Greg Orman. The Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill isn’t pulling punches as she privately influences and publicly discusses the U.S. Senate race in Kansas.

That’s the one suddenly attracting national attention, thanks to the surprising withdrawal of Democratic candidate Chad Taylor. That leaves Republican Pat Roberts, the 18-year-veteran in the Senate, fighting for his political life against independent Greg Orman.

The race has tremendous significance because it could help determine which political party will control the U.S. Senate after the November elections.

McCaskill — a Democrat from Missouri — weighed in on a number of matters over the last 24 hours.

One was the decision on Thursday by Kansas Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach to keep Taylor’s name on the ballot.

McCaskill pointed out the obvious hijinks involved, with Kobach getting to make sure the Democrat’s name stays on the ballot. It’s an obvious attempt to reduce the potential anti-Roberts vote going to Orman.

Taylor has said he followed instructions given to him by a high-ranking member of Kobach’s staff.

“And then the next day, the secretary of state — who is on Pat Roberts’s steering committee — says, ‘Well no, the language wasn’t right in the letter.’ I mean, putting his finger on the scales,” she told MSNBC.

McCaskill also talked about how national GOP officials were now rushing to the state to try to save Roberts’ position.

Hmm, that’s interesting, McCaskill said: Why can’t someone from the great state of Kansas be allowed to operate the race for Roberts, trying to keep a Republican in the office?

Finally, McCaskill said she had talked privately to Taylor about his chances to win the Senate race in November and — apparently — helped convince him he didn’t have many.

As McCaskill also noted, even though Kansas has not elected a Democratic U.S. senator since 1932, voters have put some independent-minded Republicans such as Nancy Landon Kassebaum in Washington.

Left unsaid, to a degree, was that Orman is an independent.

His chances for defeating Roberts could be rising if the people of Kansas give him a chance to explain his views — and point out his differences on the issues with Roberts.

As for Taylor, the matter of whether he stays on the ballot will be settled in court, as so many things are these days.

Clearly, Orman will be rooting for Taylor to win that legal battle. Then it would basically be a two-man race this fall to see who’s going to represent Kansas in the Senate — and which party might have control of that body come next January.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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