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Kansas Supreme Court Rules Against Kobach; Taylor Off Senate Ballot

More bad news for the Republicans' hopes of taking the Senate.
Kansas Supreme Court Rules Against Kobach; Taylor Off Senate Ballot
Image from: AP Photo / John Milburn

This isn't over yet, but it's not looking good for Kobach and Republicans: Supreme Court Blocks Kobach's Power Move In Kansas Senate Race:

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Democratic Senate nominee Chad Taylor's name should be removed from the ballot in November, overruling Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R).

The much-anticipated ruling in one of the most-watched Senate races of 2014 means national Democrats are closer to their perceived goal of clearing the field for independent candidate Greg Orman. Polling suggests that Orman, who had briefly run as a Democrat in 2008 and is open to caucusing with either party, is better positioned to knock off the vulnerable Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts.

But the matter might not be fully resolved.

After the ruling, Kobach quickly moved to put another obstacle in the way of Democrats' plan. Kobach reiterated his position that the Democratic Party is required under state law to replace Taylor on the ballot. He said he had notified the party chair that Taylor should be replaced and moved the mailing date for ballots from Sept. 20 to Sept. 27 to give Democrats time to pick a new nominee.

Election law expert Rick Hasen said on his blog that Kobach would likely have to sue the Democratic Party to force it to replace Taylor. A Democratic Party spokesperson did not immediately respond to TPM's request for comment. Read on...

Hasen has more updates at his blog:

7. This whole mess could have been avoided if Taylor would have done a better job with his letter, or if Kobach did not push the issue—and the evidence that his office had accepted non-complying letters before was damning to his case. The Court noted that Kobach submitted those letters after the deadline for filings, but seemed to praise him for doing it out of an “ethical obligation” to the court. In other words, if he just sat on letters his office just found which showed the inconsistent treatment of withdrawal letters in the past, it would have been deceptive to the court.

8. So what happens next depends upon Kobach’s next move. He has said he would sue Democrats to get them to name a replacement, but given the time frame now, and the fact that it may not be in Republicans’ political interests to let this fester any more, this may be the end. [Update: Byran Lowry reports: "Kobach says Dem chair has been informed that she has 8 days to select a replacement candidate. #ksleg #KSSen #kseln." It is not clear how the 8 days fits into the existing ballot printing timeframe.] [Second update: Kobach is moving the mailing to 9/27. What does this say about what he represented to court about deadlines? Wow wow wow.]

9, Addendum: If Democrats refuse to name or no candidate agrees to serve, then what? It seems like it would be a tough First Amendment claim to FORCE a party to name a replacement. Perhaps if Democrats do nothing Kobach will realize there’s not much he can do and drop the issue. We will see.

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