Kansas Democrat Files Lawsuit To Get Off Ballot
Kansas Democratic Senate nominee Chad Taylor really doesn’t want to be on the ballot in November:
Chad Taylor, the Democrat attempting to drop out of the Kansas Senate race, filed a petition with the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to remove his name from the ballot and block state officials from printing ballots with his name included.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, ruled last week that Taylor’s name must remain on the ballot because he failed to declare himself incapable of serving as a senator prior to a Sept. 3 deadline.
“By keeping my name on the ballot despite my explicit and timely withdrawal, the Secretary of State is conscripting me to run for office, in violation of my First Amendment rights,” Taylor said in a sworn affidavit filed with the court. “I do not want to be a candidate for U.S. Senate in the 2014 election and do not want the ballot for that election to associate me with the Senate race.”
Kobach’s decision dealt a blow to those hoping to unseat longtime Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, who’s facing a challenge from independent Greg Orman. Without Taylor on the ballot, polls show Orman within striking distance of toppling Roberts.
Whether Taylor remains on the ballot could have national ramifications. Republicans hoping to take back the Senate in November are counting on Roberts holding his usually safe seat — and Orman hasn’t yet said whether he’ll partner with Republicans or Democrats if he wins.
In his filing, Taylor argues that he followed the legal advice of Kobach’s own senior election aide, Brad Bryant, when he submitted a letter declaring his intent to withdraw from the race. In the challenge, Taylor asserts that Bryant repeatedly gave him verbal confirmation that he had met the legal requirement to withdraw from the race. Kobach’s office has dismissed that argument, contending that Taylor, an attorney, should have been clear on the law.
Kansas law requires candidates wishing to remove themselves from the ballot to declare that they would be unable to perform their duties if elected. Taylor’s letter made no such declaration, Kobach determined.
Taylor’s challenge was filed by Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray. Irigonegaray told POLITICO he wouldn’t comment on the content of the challenge and was reserving his argument for the state Supreme Court, which he said he hoped would consider the matter shortly. Kobach has argued that ballots must be printed by Sept. 18 in order to send them to overseas and military voters, and Taylor’s challenge points to that deadline to argue for a quick resolution by the high court.
“I believe that this is an incredibly important case for Kansas and for our nation,” Irigonegaray said.
As I noted last week when Kobach said that he would not remove Taylor’s name from the ballot, the statute in question does seem to have some ambiguity. However, if a Court determines that the letter to the Secretary of State must contain some statement regarding the candidates inability to fullfil the duties of the offices that they were nominated for then it seems quite apparent that Taylor’s letter was not compliant. Additionally, it doesn’t strike me that as plausible that Taylor can rely on the alleged representations of an employee of the Secretary of State’s office. The law says what it says, if someone in a government office gives out what essentially amounts to bad legal advice that doesn’t mean the law can or should be ignored.
Keeping Taylor on the ballot would obviously be a blessing to Roberts, but if the most recent poll of this race is any indication then Roberts may be in trouble even if Taylor stays on the ballot. In either case, it looks like we’ll be paying more attention to Kansas for the next two months than anyone anticipated.