Incapable in Kansas

The race for the Kansas Senate seat held by Republican incumbent Pat Roberts has been essentially a three-way affair among Roberts, Democrat Chad Taylor and Independent (Democrat) Greg Orman. When Taylor purported to withdraw as the Democratic nominee earlier this month, he did so in a terse letter to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach:

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United States Senate race, do hereby withdraw my nomination for election effective immediately and request my name be withdrawn from the ballot, pursuant to K.S.A. 25-306b(b).

The cited statute provides:

Any person who has been nominated by any means for any national, state, county or township office who declares that they [sic] are incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected may cause such person’s name to be withdrawn from nomination by a request in writing, signed by the person and acknowledged before an officer qualified to take acknowledgments of deeds.

Taylor having made no acknowledgment of incapability to serve, Kobach ruled that Taylor would stay on the ballot as the Democratic nominee this November. This point of the whole Democratic charade being to get Taylor off the ballot and get Democrats behind Orman, Taylor followed up with an appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court. Having made his withdrawal “pursuant to” the statute, Taylor argued that he incorporated the statutory requirement of incapability by reference. This week the Kansas Supreme Court unanimously agreed:

We conclude the plain meaning of “pursuant to K.S.A. 25-306b(b)” contained in Taylor’s letter effectively declares he is incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected. Simply put, the phrase operates as an incorporation by reference of this particular requirement.

The Kansas Supreme Court opinion is posted online here. It therefore ordered Kobach to remove Taylor’s name from the ballot this November. My reaction is of the you’ve got to be kidding me variety. Why didn’t Taylor say directly that he was incapable of serving? I think the answer is obvious: because he is capable of serving.

Chad Taylor in the Kansas  Supreme Court: He is "capable" of following orders.

Chad Taylor in the Kansas
Supreme Court: He is “capable” of following orders.

The photo at the left depicts Taylor as he stares meaningfully into space, listening to the argument of his case in the Kansas Supreme Court. He looks capable. Indeed, he continues to serve as the Shawnee County District Attorney.

The Wichita Eagle covers the story here. Byron York follows up in the Washington Examiner here. Byron asks a series of questions reflecting the view that Taylor’s argument is not to be taken at face value.

Taylor’s withdrawal was obviously orchestrated by Democrats to maximize their chances of knocking off Roberts. Taylor is equally obviously capable of serving. He is lying for the greater good. The whole thing is a charade.

Taylor having succeeded in making the case that he has declared himself incapable of serving “pursuant to” the Kansas withdrawal statute, will anybody who covers Kansas politics bother to ask Taylor why he is incapable of serving and when he became incapable? It would take Kansas voters somewhat nearer to the heart of the story than they are now.

UPDATE: I meant to note that Legal Insurrection’s William Jacobson takes a look at the current state of the race here.


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