Speed Reads

2014 Watch

Democrat drops out of Kansas Senate race, potentially creating opportunity for independent candidate

The U.S. Senate race in the solidly Republican state of Kansas may have just been thrown completely into uncharted territory Wednesday, with the announcement by Democratic nominee Chad Taylor that he is withdrawing from the race — thus clearing the field for a two-way race between Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, and independent businessman Greg Orman.

Taylor, the district attorney of Topeka-based Shawnee County, submitted a form to the Kansas secretary of state's office on Wednesday to formally withdraw and have his name removed from the November ballot, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports — Wednesday was the final day a candidate could file such a form under state election law.

A recent poll showed that Orman could potentially lead Roberts in a two-way race. So far in the campaign, Orman has not committed to caucusing with either the Republicans or the Democrats if he were to be elected. The big question now is whether he might be able to achieve a victory in what is an actual two-way race, especially if control of the Senate becomes a major issue.

According to the most recent federal campaign filings, as of July 16, Taylor had only $1,673 cash on hand. By comparison, Orman had more than $300,000 cash on hand. Roberts had $1.4 million on hand, but it is not clear how much of that remains after his narrow victory in the Republican primary over a Tea Party–backed challenger.

The last time Kansas elected a Democrat, or any non-Republican, to the Senate was way back in 1932, with the first landslide election of President Franklin Roosevelt. So it may well be that the biggest political impact a Democrat can have in Kansas is to drop out of the race.