When The Hays Daily News called for Democrat Chad Taylor to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race a week ago, we received no response from his campaign team.
The silence was surprising at first. Professional campaigns for such a high office do not often ignore anything that's not according to script.
In retrospect, however, it was telling. The Shawnee County district attorney already was considering that very move so there was no need to respond. On Wednesday, the candidate pulled his hat out of the ring -- clearing the way for independent Greg Orman, who has better polling numbers against incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts.
Taylor's letter delivered to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was short and sweet: "I, Chadwick J. Taylor, Democratic nominee for the United States Senate race, do hereby withdraw my nomination for election effective immediately and request my name be withdrawn from the ballot, pursuant to KSA 25-306b(b)."
Everybody had a response to that move. Taylor's supporters on social media praised him for his sacrifice. Orman said it was "an unexpected turn of events" and added "Taylor is a committed public servant." The Roberts campaign said: "Chad Taylor's withdrawal from the U.S. Senate race reveals a corrupt bargain between Greg Orman and national Democrats, including Sen. Harry Reid, that disenfranchises Kansas Democrats."
The most interesting take on the situation came from Kobach, who said Taylor did not provide evidence he was "incapable of performing the duties of office" and would remain on the ballot.
Kobach is proving once again he is incapable of performing the duties of his office. The actual language of the specific statute Taylor noted in his letter reads: "Any person who has been nominated by any means for any national, state, county or township office who declares that they are incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected may cause such person's name to be withdrawn from nomination by a request in writing, signed by the person and acknowledged before an officer qualified to take acknowledgments of deeds."
The state law then details how, when and where to file the request before ending with: "No name withdrawn as provided in this section shall be printed on the ballots for such office for the general election."
Taylor issued a statement detailing his visit with Brad Bryant, director of Elections and Legislative Matters for the Kansas Secretary of State's Office, who should be a qualified-enough official: "Mr. Bryant provided explicit instructions as to the information required in the letter to remove my name. I proceeded to draft and deliver a letter to the Kansas Secretary of State's Office of Elections, giving notice of my withdrawal from the United States Senate race. I specifically asked Mr. Bryant if the letter contained all the information necessary to remove my name from the ballot. Mr. Bryant said, 'Yes' affirming to me, and my campaign manager, that the letter was sufficient to withdraw my name from the ballot."
Anybody up for another act from the theater of the absurd?
Kobach is supposedly the chief elections officer for the state. And, he's an attorney to boot. Surely he can see there is no language in the statutes demanding evidence of any kind.
But factual information isn't really what Kobach's decision is based on. It's hardball politics -- something the secretary of state should have no part of, but Kobach has proven time and again he's quite comfortable with. Believe it or not, Kobach is on the honorary committee to re-elect Roberts. And control of the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance.
Taylor has vowed to fight Kobach's misguided ruling. Before he gets entangled in a court battle that has no chance of being decided before the Nov. 4 ballots are printed, Taylor's people need to heed our simple advice. We won't require any response this time either, but we encourage the Democrat to act quickly.
Statutes allow this type of notice to be submitted up to seven days after the meeting of the state board of canvassers for the final canvass of the primary election. The Secretary of State's Office shows Sept. 9 as that date. Statutes also do not prohibit a second submission of the notice; actually doesn't address that at all.
Taylor needs to visit Kobach's office again but this time sit down with the man who's misinterpreting state law on the fly. Have Kobach clarify the wording that would satisfy KSA 25-306b(b) -- and get Taylor's name removed from the ballot. Time is short, but there is enough of it to best Kobach at his own game.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry