Updated 6:03 p.m. | A top state election official announced Thursday that Chad Taylor, the Democratic nominee in the Kansas Senate race who dropped out of the race Wednesday , must appear on the November ballot.
Taylor's exit could drastically change Sen. Pat Roberts' re-election prospects, paving the way for independent Greg Orman to galvanize the state's political center and left. In short, without a Democrat on the ballot, Roberts is the GOP's most vulnerable senator this cycle.
But Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican who backs Roberts, said at a Thursday news conference that Taylor did not provide evidence that he was incapable of "performing the duties of office" if he were elected, per state election rules. Taylor released a statement shortly after the decision, saying he was told by Kobach's office Wednesday afternoon that he had fulfilled the necessary measures for removal from the ballot, according to Kansas First News .
Later in the day, Taylor said in a statement he will challenge Kobach's decision.
"I am planning to challenge the ruling of the Kansas Secretary of State, who serves on Pat Roberts’ Honorary Committee. Yesterday afternoon, I contacted Brad Bryant, Director of Elections and Legislative Matters for the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, to inquire about the requisite steps needed to terminate my candidacy for United State Senate and to withdraw my name from the ballot. 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. "Upon confirming that my letter would remove my name from the ballot, I presented identification, signed the notary ledger, and signed the letter before a Secretary of State employee notarized it. I again confirmed with Mr. Bryant that this notarized letter removed my name from the ballot. He again said 'Yes.' My candidacy in this race was terminated yesterday."Without Taylor on the ballot, Kansas' Senate contest is rated a Tilts Republican contest by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Alexis Levinson contributed to this report. Related: Pat Roberts Is the Most Vulnerable Republican Senator in the Country Democrat Drops Out of Kansas Senate Race The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.