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Kan. Must Remove Senate Candidate's Name From Nov. Ballot: Court

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By William Peacock, Esq. on September 19, 2014 10:41 AM

Another interesting election law decision out of the nation's heartland. Is it just me, or is this an especially litigious year?

The Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday granted a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate's wish, letting him off the ballot over the protestations of Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Yes, we know, usually ballot access battles are fought to get on the ballot. So why was Chad Taylor so desperate to get off the ballot? Why did a Republican fight so hard to keep him on?

Fun and Gamesmanship

This fall, incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is defending his seat. Many see him as vulnerable, and indeed, current polls have him neck-and-neck with a challenger: independent candidate Greg Orman. Meantime, Democrat Chad Hall, who was the voters' pick in the primary for the Democrats' spot on the ballot, was pulling just 11 percent of the vote in a recent poll, reports The Washington Post.

This brings us to why Chad Hall wanted out: He didn't want to split the anti-Roberts vote. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? For all you history buffs, think Teddy Roosevelt and the Bull Moose Party.

But the Democrats, who are trying to punt on the race altogether, aren't even sure that the independent Orman (who has previously identified with both parties) will lean their way if elected, though he's certain to be more liberal than the incumbent Republican. And Republicans want to keep a Democrat on the ballot for the same reason: to divide and conquer.

With Taylor Gone, Who's the Democratic Candidate?

The Kansas Supreme Court's quick 10-page ruling held that Taylor had fulfilled all of the requirements to get his name off the ballot, disagreeing with Kobach's arguments that Taylor must have said that he was incapable of serving.

But though Kobach lost in the Kansas Supreme Court, he's not done with the gamesmanship. He reiterated his previous argument that the Kansas Democratic Party "shall, which means must" name a replacement candidate per KSA 25-3905, reports Topeka's WIBW-TV, noting that an extended deadline of eight days to do so was plenty of time.

Indeed, the statute does use the word "shall" 13 times. The Kansas Supreme Court declined to address the argument, however, noting that the state Democratic Party was not named in the appeal and that the court does not issue advisory opinions.

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