The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Kansas has dropped out of the race, potentially making the race more competitive.
Democrat Chad Taylor, the Shawnee County district attorney, informed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) on Wednesday afternoon that he wished to withdraw his name as the party’s U.S. Senate candidate. The letter Taylor filed with the secretary of state’s office did not give a reason for his withdrawal. Taylor was facing off against U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and independent businessman Greg Orman in the race.
In a statement to the Wichita Eagle, Taylor said he made the decision to withdraw after consultation with his staff and Democratic Party leaders. He did not go into specifics on why he chose to drop out.
“After much consideration and prolonged discussion with my supporters, my staff, and party leadership at every level, I have decided to end my campaign for the United States Senate,” Taylor said in the statement to the Wichita Eagle. “I have great love for the state of Kansas and the people that live here. I will continue to work in their best interest every day, but effective today, my campaign is terminated.”
Taylor’s withdrawal comes after he narrowly defeated little known Democrat Patrick Wiesner by 5,000 votes in the August primary. Taylor has also faced criticism from fellow Democrats for his decision several years ago to stop prosecuting domestic violence cases in Shawnee County following budget cuts to his office. Taylor has said the budget cuts from the Shawnee County Commission caused him to make cuts in what his office could focus on.
Taylor had been locked in a tight race with Roberts and Orman, which has attracted increased national attention. Orman, a Johnson County businessman, has been attracting support from Democrats who view him as more electable than Taylor. Orman has been running as a nonpartisan independent.
Orman has not indicated which party he would caucus with. Republicans have won U.S. Senate races in Kansas consistently for over 80 years.
Roberts’ executive campaign manager, Leroy Towns, released a statement Wednesday saying that Orman is now the de facto Democratic nominee in the race.
“Chad Taylor’s withdrawal from the U.S. Senate race reveals a corrupt bargain between Greg Orman and national Democrats including Senator Harry Reid that disenfranchises Kansas Democrats,” Towns said in the statement. “It makes clear what has been obvious from the start: Orman is the choice of liberal Democrats and he can no longer hide behind an independent smokescreen.
Taylor’s withdrawal is the latest development in a Senate race that many had predicted would be a routine affair in the GOP state. Roberts had to contend with a primary challenge from Tea Party favorite Milton Wolf, a cousin of President Barack Obama. Roberts, who received backing from top conservatives in the state, had been accused by Wolf of not residing in Kansas, with a state board declaring that he does live in the state. Wolf, a physician, had to contend with allegations that he posted graphic x-rays of dead shooting victims on Facebook. Wolf said that the x-rays were part of an education exercise.
Roberts defeated Wolf in the primary by eight percentage points.
Taylor’s withdrawal is the second time this week that a Democratic candidate nationally has dropped out of the race, with a potential boost to an independent. On Tuesday, Alaska Democratic gubernatorial nominee Byron Mallet dropped his campaign and joined forces with independent gubernatorial nominee Bill Walker, becoming Walker’s running mate for lieutenant governor. The Alaska Democratic Party then threw its support behind the independent ticket of Walker and Mallot. Walker is facing off against Gov. Sean Parnell (R).