Democratic Nominee Drops Out of Kansas Senate Race

by Joel Gehrke

Democrats hope to defeat Senator Pat Roberts (R., Kan.), by having their party’s nominee drop out of the race in order to clear the field for a former Democrat running as an independent.

“This is a coordinated effort on the part of the Democratic party in the state of Kansas and Senator Reid to take a Senate seat back into their control so that [Nevada Democrat] Harry Reid can maintain his role as the majority leader,” Kansas Republican representative Mike Pompeo told National Review Online.

Chad Taylor, the Democratic nominee, asked to withdraw from the race Wednesday; with Taylor’s name off the ballot, independent Greg Orman leads Roberts 43–33, a recent survey from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning pollster, found.

“Orman would take 30 percent of the Republican vote while losing only 11 percent of Democrats to Roberts, and would lead by 41 points with independents at 54/13,” PPP explained in an August 19 report.

Republican voters shouldn’t be fooled by Orman, according to Pompeo. “You’ve got a fellow, a very liberal fellow, named Greg Orman who is attempting to fool Kansans into thinking he is some nonpartisan, non-ideological independent,” he says. “Should he find himself in the United States Senate, he would make his first vote for Harry Reid for majority leader; the Democrats know that; he was judged to be the Democratic party’s best hope.”

“As I understand it, Senate candidate Taylor from the Democratic party can raise thousands of dollars; Mr. Orman is prepared to put in tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars, so this is pure cold political calculus on the part of the Kansas Democratic party and the national Democratic party. Just pure politics, trying to get another liberal into the Senate,” Pompeo says.

This may be much ado about nothing: The secretary of state might not remove Taylor’s name from the ballot because he didn’t provide a reason for why he has to drop out, as the law requires.

“While Taylor did submit a request in writing to the secretary of state’s office withdrawing his nomination and asking to be withdrawn from the ballot pursuant to that same statute, the letter makes no claim that the candidate would be unable to fulfill his duties if elected,” the Hill’s Alexandra Jaffe pointed out.

If Taylor’s name remains on the ballot, the anti-Roberts vote could remain split, and voters would likely have a more negative view of his opponents.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver suggested that Orman’s current electoral strength is illusory.

“Some voters, especially Republicans who voted against Roberts in the primary, might have considered voting for Orman as protest before — and they may reconsider those plans now that he has a chance to win,” Silver wrote Thursday. “If we do program the model to treat an Orman win as a Democratic pickup, then the Democrats’ chances of retaining the Senate would improve to 38 percent from 35 percent.”