Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Chad Taylor filed suit Sept. 9 to get his name off the ballot in Kansas, which resulted in a flurry of comments from both Democrats and Republicans.
The Taylor lawsuit against Secretary of State Kris Kobach was filed in the Kansas Supreme Court.
Jean Schodorf, Democratic candidate running against Kobach, pointed out in a news release that Kobach let someone else on his staff handle the matter the day it came in, then Kobach decided the next day not to allow Taylor to withdraw.
“The people of Kansas elect their secretary of state to perform the duties of the office. We are all tired of the embarrassment that comes from Kris Kobach who chooses to engage in his personal agenda outside of the office rather than serve the needs of the state,” Schodorf said in the news release. “This is a situation where we should be shocked that Kris Kobach is nowhere to be found, but sadly this is all too common during his administration. He is regularly absent from his post.”
A Schodorf staff member, Marcus Williamson, said, “Mr. Kobach is either playing politics with this or is not there to oversee it and manage it the way it is supposed to be done.”
Kobach said in a news release that he decided to keep Taylor’s name on the ballot because the state law says a candidate has to be incapacitated, unable to serve in the post, in order to withdraw.
Taylor, a Democrat, last week sought to withdraw his name from the contest, where he was running against incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican, and Greg Orman, an independent.
Taylor’s lawsuit says that his staff had contacted the director of elections at the secretary of state’s office and asked him what the letter of withdrawal had to say. Then a letter was drafted and filed with the secretary of state’s office. The lawsuit stated that it was Taylor’s intention to declare that he was incapable of fulfilling the duties of the office and would not serve if elected, and that if he had been told by the secretary of state’s staff that information was necessary to include in the letter, he would have included it.
Joan Wagnon, Kansas Democratic Party chair, also sent out a news release that questioned Kobach’s whereabouts when Taylor withdrew his name at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3. That date was the deadline to withdraw from the election ballot. Wagnon said other employees in the secretary of state’s office physically removed Taylor’s name from the official list of candidates on Sept. 3, after Taylor brought in his letter to withdraw. Taylor’s name was back on the list the next day.
“Kansans have no use for extremist politicians like Kris Kobach who continue to put partisan politics before what is best for Kansans,” Wagnon stated in a news release.
The Kansas Republican Party issued a news release Tuesday that stated that Taylor did not ask to speak to Kobach when he withdrew his name from the ballot. The GOP also stated that no one at the secretary of state’s office ever expressed the opinion that Taylor’s name should come off the ballot. The GOP says there also is a question of whether Democrats have to replace Taylor’s on the ballot if his name is withdrawn.
“The circumstances surrounding this withdrawal stink of secret deals and pressure from national Democrat power brokers like Claire McCaskill of Missouri. We have confidence that the Kansas Supreme Court will do what is right and deny the request. The clear standard is that the candidate must be incapable of performing the duties of the office if elected, not that they cannot win or no longer want to run for office,” said Kelly Arnold, Republican Party chair.
In a news release Wednesday, the state Republican Party said the secretary of state’s staff denied that Taylor relied on guidance from the staff. It stated that the lawsuit is the wrong kind of motion in the wrong court; an expedited litigation schedule is necessary; and the Kansas Democratic Party must select a replacement candidate.
According to the Republican Party, another Democratic candidate successfully withdrew from House District 6 after the primary, in a letter that outlined the reasons why she could not be a candidate.