Our neighbors in Kansas have got a real pickle on their hands trying to sort out that state's U.S. Senate race–a situation that could endanger Republican hopes of taking control of the U.S. Senate this year. The Democratic candidate, prosecutor Chad Taylor, withdrew to avoid splitting votes with independent candidate Greg Orman–a popular candidate with a decent shot at unseating incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.
As the Kansas City Star reports, the state's secretary of state Kris Kobach has gone to extreme lengths to keep Taylor on the ballot, in a brazen effort to protect fellow Republican Sen. Roberts. Yesterday, the Kansas Supreme Court handed Kobach and Roberts a final defeat in the case:
The state Supreme Court Thursday ordered [Kobach] to strike Democrat Chad Taylor from the November ballot for U.S. Senate, ruling Taylor had complied with state law allowing a candidate to withdraw.
Just a few minutes later, Kobach — a Republican — said he’ll tell the Kansas Democratic party to pick a replacement by noon Sept. 26.
It wasn’t immediately clear how Kobach can force Democrats to pick another Senate nominee. Kobach had asked the state Supreme Court to consider such an order in Thursday’s ruling, but the judges said Democrats weren’t a part of the case…
The Democratic nominee withdrew Sept. 3. But Kobach said the withdrawal language lacked the specific language required by state law, and restored him to the ballot.
Taylor sued. Thursday, the court — in an unsigned opinion — said Taylor’s referral to the state law was sufficient to officially remove him from the ballot.
“The Secretary of State thus has no discretion to refuse to remove Chadwick J. Taylor’s name from the ballot,” the court said. There was no published dissent.
Kansas Republicans cry shame, but their complaint is pretty ridiculous on its face:
“The Kansas Supreme Court deliberately, and for political purposes, disenfranchised over 65,000 voters,” said Roberts spokesman Corry Bliss in a statement.
“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,” his statement said.
Thus expressing probably the most "concern" Republicans have felt for Democratic primary voters in…well, ever. The real problem here, of course, is that independent candidate Greg Orman is beating GOP Sen. Roberts in the polls. The Kansas Supreme Court dismissed the faux concern from Republicans about "disenfranchised" Democrats, and noted correctly–obviously–that if Chad Taylor doesn't want to be a Senate candidate, and the ballots haven't been printed yet, he doesn't have to be on the ballot. It was reportedly outside the scope of the court's ruling today, but it seems very unlikely that the court will force Democrats to nominate someone else as Kobach seems to want now. Because, well, how exactly can you do that? Kobach's "interpretations" of Kansas election law border on the absurd–which gives you an idea how desperate Kansas Republicans are to protect this Senate seat.
It's worth noting also that Kris Kobach, in addition to being a conservative darling, is a close ally of Colorado's outgoing GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler. The two have collaborated on projects like Gessler's embarrassing and basically fruitless quest for "thousands" of illegal voters. Gessler, like Kobach, has been shot down hard by the courts for his "novel" interpretations of Colorado election law–interpretations that just happen to benefit Gessler's fellow Republicans.
As you can see, Gessler has plenty of company.