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September 19, 2014 02:08 PM UTC

At Least He's Not Your Secretary of State

  • by: Colorado Pols
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R).
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R).

Our neighbors in Kansas have got a real pickle on their hands trying to sort out that state's U.S. Senate race–a situation that could endanger Republican hopes of taking control of the U.S. Senate this year. The Democratic candidate, prosecutor Chad Taylor, withdrew to avoid splitting votes with independent candidate Greg Orman–a popular candidate with a decent shot at unseating incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

As the Kansas City Star reports, the state's secretary of state Kris Kobach has gone to extreme lengths to keep Taylor on the ballot, in a brazen effort to protect fellow Republican Sen. Roberts. Yesterday, the Kansas Supreme Court handed Kobach and Roberts a final defeat in the case:

The state Supreme Court Thursday ordered [Kobach] to strike Democrat Chad Taylor from the November ballot for U.S. Senate, ruling Taylor had complied with state law allowing a candidate to withdraw.

Just a few minutes later, Kobach — a Republican — said he’ll tell the Kansas Democratic party to pick a replacement by noon Sept. 26.

It wasn’t immediately clear how Kobach can force Democrats to pick another Senate nominee. Kobach had asked the state Supreme Court to consider such an order in Thursday’s ruling, but the judges said Democrats weren’t a part of the case…

The Democratic nominee withdrew Sept. 3. But Kobach said the withdrawal language lacked the specific language required by state law, and restored him to the ballot.

Taylor sued. Thursday, the court — in an unsigned opinion — said Taylor’s referral to the state law was sufficient to officially remove him from the ballot.

“The Secretary of State thus has no discretion to refuse to remove Chadwick J. Taylor’s name from the ballot,” the court said. There was no published dissent.

Kansas Republicans cry shame, but their complaint is pretty ridiculous on its face:

“The Kansas Supreme Court deliberately, and for political purposes, disenfranchised over 65,000 voters,” said Roberts spokesman Corry Bliss in a statement.

“Liberal activist Supreme Court justices have decided that if you voted in the Democrat primary on August 5th, your vote does not matter, your voice does not matter,” his statement said.

Thus expressing probably the most "concern" Republicans have felt for Democratic primary voters in…well, ever. The real problem here, of course, is that independent candidate Greg Orman is beating GOP Sen. Roberts in the polls. The Kansas Supreme Court dismissed the faux concern from Republicans about "disenfranchised" Democrats, and noted correctly–obviously–that if Chad Taylor doesn't want to be a Senate candidate, and the ballots haven't been printed yet, he doesn't have to be on the ballot. It was reportedly outside the scope of the court's ruling today, but it seems very unlikely that the court will force Democrats to nominate someone else as Kobach seems to want now. Because, well, how exactly can you do that? Kobach's "interpretations" of Kansas election law border on the absurd–which gives you an idea how desperate Kansas Republicans are to protect this Senate seat.

It's worth noting also that Kris Kobach, in addition to being a conservative darling, is a close ally of Colorado's outgoing GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler. The two have collaborated on projects like Gessler's embarrassing and basically fruitless quest for "thousands" of illegal voters. Gessler, like Kobach, has been shot down hard by the courts for his "novel" interpretations of Colorado election law–interpretations that just happen to benefit Gessler's fellow Republicans.

As you can see, Gessler has plenty of company.


15 thoughts on “At Least He’s Not Your Secretary of State

  1. Remember when Dick Wadhams did everything but send in the mafia to get Dan Maes to withdraw from the race? What about those poor Republican primary voters?


  2. Th growing list of  harms done to minorities, women, immigrants or  now, Democratic primary voters that Republicans suddenly profess to care deeply about when convenient for them doesn't convince anyone. Like when they tsk tsk about Romnaoff''s deal mandating some pretty harsh immigration policies when harsh immigration policy is exactly what they're always pushing and never mind that Romanoff made that deal to avoid the even more draconian legislation  Rs wanted.  

    If those Dem primary voters are outraged why aren't they the ones trying to force the candidate's name to remain on the ballot? Could it be that they realize how ridiculous it is to force someone who has dropped out of the race to remain on the ballot as if they were a real choice? 

    The ruling is simple common sense. The guy isn't running and would not serve if elected.  How many voters would be "disenfranchised" if the Rs had their way and people who don't follow politics but usually vote Dem went ahead and voted for this guy, not knowing that he isn't running?  Obviously Rs were hoping the answer to that question would be… a lot. How much more transparently cynical can they get?

  3. Metaphorically speaking, isn't Kobich the political love child of Tom Tancredo and Jan Brewer?  By that, I mean he has the worst traits of each of them when it comes to Latino immigrants.

  4. Either hold the door open past the deadline so a vacancy committee can fiddle around looking for a candidate, or try to nail the door shut so that a candidate can't get out. Gessler and Kobach got copies of the same playbook.

    It's funny that in the Kansas state house elections 50 of the 125 seats up this year are unopposed. I guess commitment to democracy depends on the possibility of partisan advantage.

  5. I don't know why Colorado Democratic politicians aren't falling all over themselves to point out the differences between Democratic led Colorado and Republican led Kansas for the last four years.  Kansas followed the familiar path of Republican insanity and just wasted their state government and economy.  Colorado is one of the top performing states economically in the country and that was before legalization.  I read today that Colorado unemployment is close to 5%.  Hickenlooper should just be pounding this message of economic resurgence on the tubes.  Point out the obivous that governments crater when Republicans are in control.

    1. Absolutely. Completely destroys the basic conservative premise the that Rs are the daddy party, great on the economy, jobs and fiscal responsibility. All the most draconian R polices are in place in Kansas and it's destroying their economy, school system and infrastructure. A hundred prominent Republicans are opposing their own Governor's (Brownback) reelection because the man is so deluded his plan to get them out of the hole is more of the same failed policies that got them into the hole in the first place. 

      Dems seem to always be fighting the last battle.  They don't need to defer to Rs on economic issues and beg for votes on the social issues.  Dems are demonstrably better on the economic issues too as Kansas v Colorado demonstrates so clearly.  

      They don't need to beg to be liked by the middle by repeating the silly false mantra about how they won't be like the extremists on both sides of the aisle. The extremists who won't compromise are almost entirely on one side, the GOTP side. Dems are overwhelmingly moderate and willing to offer sensible compromise to get things done, while Rs vow to keep anything from getting done and even to close down the government if they don't get 100% of what they want.  

      Dem candidates need to get this message out and get it out now. Voters don't have to choose between social issues like choice, education and immigration reform on the one hand and a better economy on the other. Women don't have to choose between their rights and a better economy for their children. Dems give them the best policies for all of it. Just look at Colorado and Kansas. It's the perfect side by side, literally and figuratively. Use it!

  6. You gotta give him credit for imagination:  He's now planning to send out ballots without a Dem candidate but with a discloaimer to voters that they may receive replacement ballots between now and election day if the Dems change their minds and opt to nominate someome.  Presumably all the truly loyal Repubs will fill in the ballots immediately by voting for Recliner Roberts while Dems and unaffiliates wait until Nov. 4th to see what the Dems do.

    1. And it's all in the service of those poor "disenfranchised" Dem primary voters who ought to have the option of voting for the Dem who isn't running and won't serve if elected, right?

    2. That's a joke as well.

      Any attempt to send out differing sets of ballots to different voters in the same voting district is bound to run into equal protection issues a la Bush v Gore (whether or not SCOTUS says it sets precedent, it has…).

      And he's delayed ballot printing until the 27th "to give Democrats time to appoint a replacement". Of course, ballots must be printed starting the 27th in order to meet Federal election law, so if Democrats can't (or just plain don't) do the 8-day turnaround on a vacancy committee, Kobach still has to print a ballot without a Dem. Senate candidate. He only delayed because he's worried about Orman beating out Roberts.

      (Of course, at the same time Roberts is in trouble, Gov. Brownback is widely expected to lose to a Democrat, and Kobach himself is now in danger of losing re-election because of his partisan asshattery.)

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