Who would have thought that a campaign for a U.S. Senate race in little ol’ Kansas would have such profound national implications?
It appears that something like that is shaping up.
The Kansas Supreme Court has removed the name of a Democrat from the ballot after he dropped out of the race unexpectedly more than a week ago. Chad Taylor pulled out of the race because (a) he didn’t have a prayer of beating incumbent Republican Pat Roberts and (b) the independent candidate, Greg Orman, is surging and is now leading Roberts in most polls.
What does this mean?
It might mean that Republicans could fall short of winning control of the Senate, which is the dream of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who wants to become majority leader in January.
Roberts took a serious beating in the GOP primary when questions arose about his residency and whether he actually lived in Kansas any longer. He said he does and he beat back the challenge.
Orman, though, has cut seriously into Roberts’s standing among voters. He’s casting the incumbent as out of touch and all the usual anti-incumbent stuff one hears. The difference, however, is that it’s sticking to Roberts.
Taylor was running third in the polls. The word now is that he dropped out merely to try denying Roberts’s re-election to the Senate. He’s what one would call a “team player,” meaning he took one for the team if it helps the non-Republican candidate win the contest. Republicans wanted to keep his name on the ballot, but the state’s high court dismissed the GOP appeal.
Most polling around the country shows the race for Senate control to be tight. A RealClearPolitics average of polls suggests Republicans would fall one seat short if the election were held today. If Roberts loses in reliably Republican Kansas, then the odds of a GOP takeover would appear doomed.
Yes, there’s a certain twinge of chicanery involved here. It’s legal, just as it was legal for African-American Democrats to vote for Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi to deny tea party GOP challenger Chris McDaniel an upset.
As the saying goes — and I’m not even sure what it means: Politics ain’t bean bag.