State board rejects U.S. Senate candidate Marshall’s plea to add ’Doc’ nickname to August ballot

Tim Carpenter
The state's objections board, from left, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Secretary of State Scott Schwab and Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers denied U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall's request to be listed on the August ballot for U.S. Senate as Roger "Doc" Marshall.

U.S. Senate candidate and physician Roger Marshall lost an appeal Friday to get “Doc” added to his name on the Republican primary election ballot in August.

The three-person board of Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers and Secretary of State Scott Schwab rejected an appeal of the secretary of state office’s decision in May to decline Marshall’s request. Schmidt and Schwab are Republicans, while Rogers is a Democrat.

“You have a name and a nickname. They are not the same,” said Schmidt, who said Kansas law on the issue was “not a model of clarity.”

Rogers said allowing voters to consider a list of GOP primary candidates for U.S. Senate that included Roger “Doc” Marshall would give Marshall an unfair advantage in the election because it would serve as a reference to his professional career as a physician.

Caleb Hays, an Oswego attorney representing Marshall during the appeal hearing in Topeka, said Marshall was commonly referred to by friends and neighbors as “Doc.” Hays submitted letters from a handful off people attesting to use of the “Doc” nickname. The congressman’s birth name is Roger Wayne Marshall.

“Doc is his name. Rep. Marshall is entitled to the use of his own name on the ballot,” Hays said.

Hays said the “Doc” label wasn’t a reference to a title, degree, symbol, accomplishment, occupation or qualification. Marshall uses the nickname in personal, social and political interactions, he said.

Hays said it would be wrong to deny Marshall’s appeal after the secretary of state’s office in the past let former Republican Gov. Bill Graves use a ballot name other than his birth name of William Graves or for current state Rep. Dennis Highberger, D-Lawrence, to be listed on ballots with his nickname of “Boog.”

Robert Savino, an attorney representing U.S. Senate candidate Kris Kobach, told the board against permitting “Doc” to be included with Marshall’s name on the ballot.

In April 2016, Marshall attempted to have “Roger Marshall (Doc)” as his ballot name in the GOP congressional race. The secretary of state office, led at that time by Kobach, refused to allow it. Marshall didn’t appeal the decision.

Marshall, who serves the 1st District congressional set in western Kansas, seeks nomination to the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated when Pat Roberts retires in January. The front-runner for the Democratic nomination is state Sen. Barbara Bollier, who is a retired physician.

Marshall, 59, is a 1987 graduate of the University of Kansas medical school. He practiced medicine in Great Bend for more than 25 years, delivering more than 5,000 babies as an obstetrician before elected to the U.S. House. He is opposed to abortion.

He filed as a candidate for U.S. Senate on May 18. On the form he disclosed his desire to be listed as Roger “Doc” Marshall. He signed that document with his given name, “Roger W. Marshall.” The secretary of state’s office on May 21 determined “Doc” wasn’t allowed on the ballot, but Marshall filed an objection on May 22.

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, a candidate for U.S. Senate, failed in a bid Friday to have his name listed on the August primary ballot as Roger "Doc" Marshall. The state objections board concluded the nickname referred to his career as a physician.