Kansas Democrats are incensed because the state's Republican secretary of state won't let their Senate candidate take his name off the ballot.
The unusual turn of events came about because Democrats in the solidly red state believe a deep-pocketed third-party candidate, independent Greg Orman, has a better shot of taking out the long-term incumbent, Sen. Pat Roberts (R), in November.
Roberts had benefitted from Orman and the Democratic nominee, Chad Taylor, splitting the vote, but Democrats thought they had caught a break when Taylor announced Wednesday he was dropping out of the race (reportedly under pressure from Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill).
But the secretary of state, Kris Kobach, had other ideas.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Kobach – a Republican supporting Roberts – said he was rejecting Taylor's written request to remove his name from the ballot because he never actually said he was unfit to serve in the Senate.
Democrats' hopes appeared to be dashed. While Taylor will not be actively campaigning, just the fact that his name will stay on the ballot could be enough to swing the election to Roberts, who remains at least a slight favorite in the race.
One GOP'er following #KSSEN predicts Taylor gets up to 15% of vote w/out campaigning, just by being on ballot. Tougher 4 Orman.— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) September 4, 2014
Republicans need to win six seats to take control of the Senate. With three pickups in South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia already pretty much in hand, Democrats thought a surprise victory in Kansas could help them keep the majority.
With all that said, however, Democrats had yet to lock down one key detail: They don't even know if Orman will align with them if he makes it to Washington.