TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Democrat challenging three-term Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has ended his campaign without explanation.
Chad Taylor sent a letter to the Kansas secretary of state on Wednesday withdrawing from the race, which also has a viable independent candidate, Olathe businessman Greg Orman, as well as a Libertarian candidate, Randall Batson of Wichita.
Taylor issued a separate statement saying he made the decision after consulting with his staff, supporters and Democratic Party leaders.
“Effective today, my campaign is terminated,” he said. Originally, the statement said “suspended,” but the word was crossed out and replaced with a handwritten “terminated.”
Joan Wagnon, the Kansas Democratic Party’s chairwoman, said she needed a few days to sort out the situation, while Roberts’ campaign suggested the move was a “corrupt bargain” between Democratic leaders and Orman’s campaign. Orman, the co-founder of a business capital and management services firm, ran for Roberts’ seat in 2007 as a Democrat but dropped out early in 2008.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican and former law professor, said his initial reading of state election laws is that they require the Democratic Party to pick a new nominee. But he said he would consult with his legal staff Thursday.
Orman issued a statement Wednesday calling Taylor “a committed public servant.” Taylor is the district attorney in Shawnee County, home to the state capital of Topeka.
Orman says he grew unhappy with both parties and has positioned himself as a nonpartisan centrist — as well as Roberts’ most formidable opponent in the Nov. 4 general election.
But Roberts’ executive campaign manager Leroy Towns called Orman’s independent status “a smoke screen.” Both the Taylor and Orman camps declined to comment beyond written statements.
Campaign finance records show Taylor raised about $163,000 in contributions from November through July, while Orman took in more than $670,000 after starting his campaign in May. Roberts raised about $3.4 million from the beginning of last year through July, but he had a tough primary race against tea-party challenger Milton Wolf.
Roberts remains favored to win the race in GOP-leaning Kansas, though he received just 48 percent of the vote in his primary race against Wolf and two lesser-known candidates. Republicans have won every U.S. Senate contest since 1932, and they enjoy a nearly 20 percentage-point advantage among the state’s 1.74 million registered voters.
Since the primary, Roberts has sought to unify Republicans by appealing to their frustrations with Democratic President Barack Obama and Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
On Wednesday, Orman received the endorsement of Traditional Republicans for Common Sense, a group of former moderate GOP state legislators unhappy with the party’s conservative leanings.
“What we really need to do is send a message to those folks in Washington that we want problem-solvers there,” Orman said during a news conference on the endorsement.
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