Judges Rule Kansas Dems Can Leave Senate Slot Open
October 1, 2014

A three judge panel has rejected a bid to force Kansas democrats to name another US Senate candidate.
A Kansas City man who claimed to be a long-time Democrat said he was being deprived of his right to vote for a Democrat in the Senate race and took the matter to court.
The Democrat’s original Senate candidate, Chad Taylor withdrew from the raced September 3.
His controversial withdrawal was upheld by the Kansas Supreme Court. That ruling triggered KCK resident David Orel’s lawsuit. The court heard the case Monday. It ruled today because the state is on the verge of printing the November ballots.
The case is politically significant because three-term incumbent Republican Pat Roberts is trailing independent candidate Greg Orman, according to the latest poll (see previous post). Roberts tough reelection fight is drawing national attention. The Republican bid to gain six seat and take control of the Senate is being compounded by Roberts’ vulnerability with voters.
Orel’s lawyers maintained state law required the state party to nominate another candidate after Taylor’s withdrawal. The state law says a vacancy on a ticket after the primary “shall be filled by the party committee”.
The Court ruled that the word “shall”, does not command the Kansas Democrats to name another nominee.
“’Shall’, as used in KSA 25-39059(a) carries a limited reference to the who and how of filling such vacancies, not a mandate to do so,” the judges wrote in their opinion.
The judges also noted there are no penalties or method of enforcing the law on the Kansas books.
The judges wrote the Kansas democratic party had the right to decide if it wanted to fill the slot on the ballot or not, given that offering up a brand new candidate just weeks before the election, “would be faced with a very restricted window to successfully advance his or her views.”
The AP reports that the plaintiff, Orel, is not likely to appeal the ruling.

Hearing Today on Kansas Democratic Senate Replacement
September 29, 2014

(AP) – A key contest in the fight for control of the Senate could turn on the outcome of an arcane legal argument Monday over whether Democrats must field a candidate against struggling Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

The case centers on whether a state election law requires Democrats to pick a new candidate after ex-nominee Chad Taylor withdrew earlier this month or whether the party can choose not to replace him. Some Democrats pushed Taylor out, viewing independent candidate Greg Orman as the stronger rival for Roberts and hoping to avoid a split in the anti-Roberts vote that would help the GOP incumbent stay in office.

Republicans need to gain six seats for a Senate majority, and the GOP has always counted on the 78-year-old Roberts winning in a state that has elected only Republicans to the chamber since 1932. Orman, a 45-year-old Olathe businessman, is running as a centrist – promising to caucus with whichever party has a majority and play kingmaker if neither does. Roberts has struggled after a bruising primary and questions about his residency in Kansas.

Taylor had to petition the Kansas Supreme Court to force Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Roberts supporter, to remove the Democrat’s name from the Nov. 4 ballot. Minutes after the high court ruling, a disgruntled voter sued the Democratic Party to get a replacement on the ballot, and Kobach is attempting to intervene again.

Rebecca Green, a law professor and co-director of the Election Law Program at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, said such a case represents “a court’s worst nightmare” because of the jockeying between the Republicans and Democrats, so any ruling will be perceived as political.

Kansas Overseas Ballots Going Out With a Warning
September 21, 2014

(AP)– Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says about 500 voters living overseas will be told they may have to re-vote in the U.S. Senate race after ballots were mailed to them Saturday.

The Kansas election official on Friday directed counties to begin mailing overseas ballots under a federal deadline.

The ballots will have no Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate race after the Kansas Supreme Court ordered Kobach to honor nominee Chad Taylor’s request to remove his name. Some Democrats pushed Taylor out to help independent candidate Greg Orman’s chances of defeating Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

Kobach said Democrats are still obligated to pick a new nominee.

KCK Democrat Files New Senate Lawsuit
September 19, 2014

(AP)–A registered Democratic voter has filed a new petition with the Kansas Supreme Court asking it to force the party to name a new nominee for the U.S. Senate.

David Orel of Kansas City, Kansas, filed the petition Thursday after the court ruled that Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach had to honor Democrat Chad Taylor’s wishes to remove his name from the Nov. 4 ballot.

Removal of Taylor’s name could help independent candidate Greg Orman’s chances of defeating three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

Kobach said earlier Thursday that the Democratic Party is legally obligated to pick a new nominee and set a Sept. 26 deadline.

Kansas Supremes Don’t Hang Chad Out
September 18, 2014

The Kansas Supreme Court placed another twist on the wild US Senate race Thursday.
The Court ruled Kansas secretary of State Kris Kobach should remove Chad Taylor’s name from the ballot as the Democratic US Senate nominee.
The Court ruled Kobach, as the state’s top election official, has “no discretion” on removing Taylor.
Kobach refused to do so. He claimed Taylor’s withdrawal letter was not properly written.
Kobach’s lawyer argued before the high court that Taylor’s mere citation of the Kansas law allowing candidate to drop outwas insufficient. Kobach claimed the candidate needed to state he was “ incapable of fulfilling the duties of office”.
The justices disagreed . They wrote that citing the appropriate statue was enough to require the Republican Secretary of State to drop the Democratic Senate nominee from the ballot.
The printing of those ballot is about to start so there was a time factor in the hearing this week and the ruling two days later.
Three term Republican incumbent Pat Roberts was furious.
“This not only a travesty to Kansas voters, but it a travesty to the judicial system and our electoral process.
Roberts says the Courts ruling cancels out the 65,000 Democrats who voted in the August 5th primary.
Kansas Republicans are accusing National democrats of condoning a power play to stop republicans from gaining six US Senate seats and taking control of the body.
“It’s pathetic that the Kansas Democrats are celebrating that their own candidate…quit,” said Kansas Republican Chairman Kelly Arnold.
Roberts seat had been considered a lock, until political problems started earlier this year for the veteran senator. Now he is regarded as the most vulnerable Republican in the 2014 Senate mid-term elections.
Both Roberts and Arnold blamed Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid for encouraging Taylor to drop from the race.
That is because independent candidate Greg Orman has more money and seems to be fielding a stronger campaign.
Supposedly, Democrats thought Roberts was more vulnerable in a head to head race with a democratic-leaning independent candidate as opposed to a three-way way with a Republican incumbent, a Democratic challenger and an Independent opponent.
The Associaeted Press is reporting kobach expects the Kansas Democratic Party to name a replacement to the slot by late September.
That would be after ballots are shipped out to Kansas voters overseas in the military.
Kansas democratic Chairman Joan Wagnon berated Kobach in a statement Thursday night.
“ Kobach does not believe in fair play and will continue to break the rules,” Wagnon said in a statement.
Two polls released this week show an unexpectedly close Kansas Senate race.
A poll from the Democratic leaning public Policy Polling firm showed Orman leading Roberts 41-34%; with Taylor collecting 6% of the survey vote.
A Fox News Poll released this week shows Roberts leading Orman 40-38% and Taylor holding 11% of the vote.