The Democratic candidate for the Senate in Kansas, who wants to withdraw from the race against incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, must stay on the November ballot, a state official has ruled.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday that Democrat Chad Taylor didn't comply with state law because he didn't formally declare he'd be unable to serve if elected.
On Wednesday, Taylor dropped out of the race,
raising questions about whether he quit to give independent candidate Greg Orman a better shot at defeating three-term conservative Roberts, who has struggled to solidify his re-election in a predominantly Republican state.
The move has suddenly made the Kansas race a wild card in the national fight for control of the Senate. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to control the chamber. Roberts is the GOP's most vulnerable senator in this election cycle, Roll Call reports.
Taylor said he'd challenge the Kobach ruling, asserting that the Secretary of State's Office assured him he'd met the requirements to be removed from the November ballot, Kansas First News
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Star
noted that Taylor's presence on the ballot could be a big boost for Roberts, eliminating the need for him to battle the well-financed independent Greg Orman.
Orman had no immediate response to the Kobach ruling, the Star reported.
"This could well end up in court, and I don't have a good sense for how the courts would rule on this question," Rick Hasen, an election law expert from the University of California-Irvine, told the Star.
Kansas Democratic Chairwoman Joan Wagnon said her party's legal plans were still under review, but criticized Kobach, a Republican.
"He is partisan, and mean, and he has made an unmitigated mess of our electoral system," she said, the Star reports. "He ought to keep his hand out of this one."
The deadline for certifying ballots is Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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