Sep 5, 2014

Weekend update: Roberts shakes up troubled campaign!!! Gets HELP. KS Republican Kobach puts kabosh on Democrat strategy to drop out in the Kansas Senate Race.

Taylor        Orman        Roberts
Latest in the squirrely Kansas Senate race between Democrat Chad Taylor, Independent Independent Greg Orman and incumbent senator Pat Roberts (R-VA).

Taylor bails out to give more popular Independent Orman of Olathe a head to head shot to unseat Pat Roberts... making Roberts' win in doubt.

Now come the Republican Secretary of State, acting just a little bit like Florida Secretary of State Kathryn Harris back during the narrow contest in 2000 between Pres Bush and Al Gore...trying to use her job to slip Bush the win on a technicality.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) threw another curveball in the wild U.S. Senate contest in Kansas on Thursday, saying that Democrat Chad Taylor must remain on the ballot even though he said he announced his intentions to withdraw from the contest a day earlier.

Kobach said that Taylor failed to provide notice that he is incapable of serving in the Senate, which the law requires. In his brief letter to the secretary of state sent Wednesday, the last day for changes to the ballot, Taylor only said that he was dropping out.

"We now have no choice but to keep his name on the ballot," Kobach told reporters.

In a statement, Taylor argued that he fulfilled the requirements as they were explained to him.

"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," explained Taylor. "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.'"

The events in Kansas are being watched closely by strategists in both Washington and Kansas. If Taylor stays on the ballot, as Kobach says he will, it will be a boon to Sen. Pat Roberts (R), who is facing a challenge from a surging independent candidate, Greg Orman. Without Taylor in the picture, Orman stands a better chance of winning more anti-Roberts votes.

If the race is competitive this fall, it could change the map in the battle for the Senate majority. Republicans need to gain six seats to seize control.

The story:

Roberts Revamps, gets Reinforcements to save his campaign

Breaking from SanFrancisco Chronicle, of AP Friday night.

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Sen. Pat Roberts has shaken up his struggling re-election team in Kansas, replacing a longtime confidante as campaign manager and getting help from national operatives in a race that's suddenly a battleground in the fight for Senate control.

The campaign overhaul comes after Roberts' bruising primary fight and the stunning attempt by his Democratic challenger this week to cancel his candidacy in the face of a strong bid by an independent candidate.

Roberts confirmed Friday that Leroy Towns — whom the three-term senator once described as his "alter ego" — has stepped down as executive campaign manager, though he will remain as a consultant. The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent in a seasoned consultant, Chris LaCivita, and he will work with Corry Bliss, who's managed GOP campaigns in Connecticut, Georgia and Vermont.

The campaign also has a new director for its grass-roots operations, Alan Cobb, previously a senior campaign adviser to Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas. Cobb is a former state director and national official with Americans for Prosperity, the anti-tax, small government group backed by conservative billionaire-donors Charles and David Koch.

"We are going to be very aggressive now that it has become a national campaign," Roberts said before a political forum sponsored by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce in Wichita.

Roberts confirmed the changes only a day before the first debate of the fall campaign, at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson.

Independent candidate Greg Orman's campaign declined to comment. Orman is a 45-year-old businessman from the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, and he's running as a nonpartisan centrist. He promises to caucus with whichever party has the Senate majority and hopes to be a kingmaker if the chamber is divided.

Roberts already has labeled Orman a liberal Democrat, hoping GOP voters and Republican-leaning unaffiliated voters will identify him with Democratic President Barack Obama, who received only 38 percent of the vote in Kansas in 2012.

The 78-year-old Roberts looked vulnerable after winning only 48 percent of the vote in the August primary against a tea party opponent. The race also was roiled by Democrat Chad Taylor's attempt to withdraw, a move that appeared to be aimed at giving Orman a better shot at defeating Roberts.

Roberts also has been dogged by questions about owning a Washington, D.C.-area home while claiming rented space in the Dodge City home of two supporters as his official residence. The senator kept the issue alive with a July gaffe during a radio interview, saying, "Every time I get an opponent — uh, I mean, every time I get a chance — I'm home."

But LaCivita said, "Some things being said about Senator Roberts' demise are premature."

"Things generally are never as bad as they're portrayed," he added.

Republicans need a net gain of six seats in the midterm election to take the majority in the chamber, and they've always counted on holding Roberts' seat. The chairman of the national GOP committee helping Roberts is fellow Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran.

"If we don't do what we need to do in Kansas, that is just stupid," Moran said of the renewed efforts to re-elect Roberts. He was speaking after a Kansas Chamber of Commerce forum in Wichita.

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