Kansas supreme court rules Democrat off the Senate ballot
In a decision that will likely make a GOP takeover of the Senate more difficult, the Kansas supreme court has ruled that Democratic candidate Chad Taylor, wo dropped out of the race last month, must be removed from the ballot.
The Republican Secretary of State Kris Korbach had ruled earlier that Taylor's name had to remain on the ballot. But the court unanimously agreed that Taylor's resignation letter was sufficient to have his name removed.
The decision leaves a two man race between incumbent GOP Senator, 78 year old Pat Roberts, and Democrat-turned-independent Greg Orman.
The court also said it did not "need to act" regarding Secretary of State Kris Kobach's "allegation" that the Democratic party must name a new candidate for the race. Kobach said earlier Thursday that the Democratic Party is legally obligated to pick a new nominee and set a Sept. 26 deadline.
The Roberts campaign has repeatedly accused Democrats of playing dirty politics after national Democrats such as Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill reportedly nudged Taylor out of the race earlier this month to make way for Orman.
Roberts' campaign manager Corry Bliss said in a statement the court's decision is deliberately disenfranchising "over 65,000 voters" for "political purposes."
"In a bow to Senators Claire McCaskill and Harry Reid, liberal activist Supreme Court justices have decided that if you voted in the Democrat Primary on August 5th, your vote does not matter, your voice does not matter, and you have no say in who should be on the ballot on Election Day," he said. "This is not only a travesty to Kansas voters, but it’s a travesty to the judicial system and our electoral process."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee also decried the decision, saying the Democratic party now has a "clear legal obligation" to name a new candidate.
"Greg Orman and his liberal friends like Barack Obama might not like it, but they have to abide by the law just like everyone else," spokesman Brad Dayspring said.
Orman's campaign manager said in response to the decision Orman would run against a broken political system no matter how many candidates were on the ballot.
"Kansas voters from across the political spectrum are fed up with the mess in Washington, and that's why Republicans, Democrats and independents are supporting Independent Greg Orman for Senate," Jim Jonas said.
With Taylor on the ballot and receiving 5-9% of the vote, Roberts held a slim lead over Orman. But with Taylor off the ballot, those same polls gave Orman a 7-10 point lead.
The gambit to force Democrats to name a replacement for Taylor by September 26 may still be alive since the court declined to rule on the law's legality. Republicans are pushing the Democrats to do so, but it's unclear what, if any penalties would be assessed if the Democrats failed to name a replacement.
How much trouble is Roberts in? Kansas is a deep red state. They haven't elected a Democrat to the Senate since the 1930's. If Roberts can get voters to think Orman is the Democrat in disguise he truly is, the latent GOP vote may rise to the surface and allow Roberts to squeak by.
But Orman has made all the right noises, saying he doesn't know who he will caucus with if he goes to Washington, and he doesn't know if he'd vote for Harry Reid for majority leader. If Roberts can pin him down on those two issues, voters may see Orman as the stealth Democratic candidate he is.
That may be enough to put the aging Senator over the top.