Chad Taylor is the only candidate since 2010 to attempt to withdraw from his party’s nomination without stating that he was incapable to serve.
Nine other candidates have withdrawn after winning their party’s nomination in the past four years and all of them declared they were incapable to serve, according to records The Eagle obtained from the Secretary of State’s Office.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach has kept Taylor, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, on the November ballot against his will, saying Taylor did not declare himself incapable to serve if elected in his letter withdrawing from the race.
Taylor sought to withdraw to clear the way for independent candidate Greg Orman to directly oppose U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. Republicans raised concerns about the withdrawal and Kobach ruled that it was not valid.
The Eagle made an open records request for all letters from candidates withdrawing from a race since 2010. These include letters submitted during Kobach’s tenure and during the election presided over by his Democratic predecessor Chris Biggs.
The letters fall into two categories: those filed before the primary, which do not require the declaration, and those filed after the primary, which do. Of candidates who filed a letter after winning the primary since 2010, Taylor is the only candidate who did not include the declaration in his letter.
Kansas statute states, “Any person who has been nominated by any means for any national, state, county or township office who declares that they are incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected may cause such person’s name to be withdrawn from nomination by a request in writing.”
Kobach questioned how Taylor, the district attorney for Shawnee County, could fail to properly follow the statute. He has noted that many non-attorneys have successfully followed the requirements, an assertion confirmed by The Eagle’s records request.
Some candidates provided elaborate details.
The Secretary of State’s Office received a four-page letter from John Gotts, who withdrew from the race in House District 63 in 2012 after questions surfaced about his residency.
Gotts explained in his letter that he and his wife had decided to stay in Idaho, where they owned a business, making him ineligible to serve if elected.
His letter also includes several paragraphs bashing the district’s Democratic incumbent Rep. Jerry Henry, Lady Gaga and the “liberal media.” But he made the declaration and was able to withdraw from the race.
Alan Rees said in his letter that his health required him to withdraw from the House race in District 76 in 2010.
Justin McCarthy stated in his 2010 letter that he realized moving into a new home placed him out of the House district in which he was running. “Therefore, I am unable to fulfill the requirements stated in the Kansas Constitution necessary to represent the 66th District,” McCarthy, a Manhattan resident, wrote.
Miranda Rickel, a Kansas State University student who withdrew from the race in House District 5 this August, said in her letter that the combination of a research project and the jobs she works to pay tuition prevented her from running.
“After long reflection and discussions with my family and teachers, I have concluded it will be nearly impossible for me to handle all this and still run an election campaign that the voters in the district deserve,” Rickel said.
Other candidates gave few details about their reasons for dropping out, but made the declaration all the same. “Due to circumstances beyond my control, I find that I am unable to fulfill the duties of the office of State Representative for District 93,” Pamela Frieden wrote when withdrawing from a House race in southern Sedgwick County in August 2012.
Taylor’s letter, on the other hand, cites the statute but makes no declaration:
“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 withdrawn from the ballot, pursuant to KSA-25-306b(b),” Taylor wrote in his Sept. 3 letter.
Many of the candidates who successfully withdrew did not cite the specific statute; they did declare they were incapable of serving.
Taylor has claimed in a sworn affidavit that Assistant Secretary of State Brad Bryant assured him that his letter was sufficient. Bryant denies this in an affidavit of his own.
Pedro Irigonegaray, Taylor’s attorney, has declined to comment on the contradictory accounts.
The Kansas Supreme Court will hear the case on Tuesday and determine whether Taylor should remain on the ballot.