In a blow for opponents of Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced today that Democratic Senate nominee Chad Taylor will stay on the ballot.
Taylor had announced Wednesday that he was dropping out of the Senate race, clearing the way for well-funded independent candidate Greg Orman to pose a formidable threat to incumbent Roberts.
Taylor's announcement shocked political observers by putting Roberts’ seat in play, which could potentially affect which party controls the Senate in November.
But Kobach, a Republican, announced Thursday afternoon that despite Taylor’s wishes, his name will stay on the ballot in November.
"We now have no choice to keep his name off the ballot," said Kobach, according to Talking Points Memo, citing Kansas law that says candidates can only remove their name if they’re incapable of serving if elected.
Kobach’s move has irked Orman supporters.
“That sounds extremely partisan, and my guess is that that may well end up in the courts,” said Wint Winter, a former Republican state Senator who backs Orman. “It could be the difference in the race."
Winter is a member of Traditional Republicans for Common Sense, a group of more than 70 former lawmakers that has endorsed Orman.
For Republicans watching the messy fallout of Taylor’s efforts, the decision has led to no small amount of schadenfreude.
“They really fumbled this one,” said one Kansas Republican operative.
Roberts recently emerged from a bruising primary. A Public Policy Polling survey from mid-August showed his approval rating at a 27 percent, making him vulnerable to a challenger.