Sep 18, 2014 5:53 PM

Kansas court: Remove Democrat from Senate ballot

The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) Kansas must remove the name of the Democratic candidate against Republican Sen. Pat Roberts from the ballot, the state Supreme Court declared Thursday, in a unanimous ruling that could influence the fight for control of the U.S. Senate.

The court's decision leaves Democrats without a candidate, potentially making it easier for independent candidate Greg Orman to defeat the three-term incumbent. Republicans have counted on Roberts winning re-election in GOP-leaning Kansas as they seek to recapture a Senate majority.

Some Democrats nudged party nominee Chad Taylor out of the race earlier this month to avoid a major split of anti-Roberts votes. Taylor announced his withdrawal, but Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a conservative Republican publicly backing Roberts, declared that Taylor didn't comply with a state election law limiting when nominees can withdraw. Taylor petitioned the Supreme Court to remove his name from the ballot.

The justices unanimously agreed with Taylor, saying his formal letter of withdrawal to the secretary of state's office was sufficient to get his name off the ballot.

"We conclude the plain meaning of 'pursuant to (the law)' contained in Taylor's letter effectively declares he is incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected," the justices said.

Kansas law says party nominees can have their names removed from the ballot if they declare that they'll be incapable of fulfilling the duties of the offices they seek. Taylor's letter cited the law by statute number but didn't specifically say he wouldn't be incapable of serving, and he's never publicly given a reason for dropping out.

Kobach argued that Taylor must explain himself, even if he simply says he can't serve as a senator, without giving more details. But the court said citing the statute number was enough.

Republicans need to gain six Senate seats to take the majority from Democrats and Kansas is one of about a dozen races nationally that could determine the outcome.

Kobach had said a quick decision was needed because ballots need to be printed Friday.


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