Senate races

Kansas Supreme Court will hear Senate ballot case Tuesday

The Kansas Supreme Court has decided to hear Democratic Senate candidate Chad Taylor’s lawsuit against Secretary of State Kris Kobach over Taylor’s request to be removed from the ballot.

{mosads}Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Tuesday morning. The Supreme Court’s decision comes in response to arguments from Kobach’s legal team that the case should be heard in a lower court. Because of the time-sensitive nature of the decision — ballots must be mailed before the end of the month to ensure they reach overseas military voters — the Supreme Court said it was an appropriate venue for the case.

Taylor attempted to remove himself from the ballot just before the deadline last week, but Kobach, a Republican, denied his request because Taylor didn’t provide a written declaration that he would be incapable of serving as a senator if elected, a requirement under Kansas election law, according to Kobach’s interpretation of the statute.

Taylor has said an election official told him the document he filed would be sufficient to remove himself from the ballot. But that official denied Taylor’s account of events in an affidavit filed in court.

The Supreme Court’s decision will have a significant impact on Sen. Pat Roberts’s (R-Kan.) reelection prospects. He’s emerged as surprisingly vulnerable, and polling has shown him in a tight race with independent Greg Orman. But polling also indicates Orman would have a much stronger shot at taking him down in a head-to-head match-up, a prospect that prompted Democrats to call for Taylor to drop out.

If Taylor remains on the ballot, Republicans are hopeful he’ll siphon enough anti-Roberts votes from Orman to give Roberts a win. 

Democrats decried Kobach’s decision to keep him on the ballot as a politically motivated move meant to protect Roberts at the expense of the law. They’ve privately expressed optimism the Supreme Court will rule in their favor, noting four of the court’s seven justices were appointed by Democrat Kathleen Sebelius during her time as governor.

—This piece was updated on Friday to reflect the most recent polling.

Tags 2014 Kansas Senate Race Chad Taylor Greg Orman Pat Roberts

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