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Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

A top Obama White House official met in July with the people informally planning to assist a 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, Politico's Maggie Haberman reported Thursday.

John Podesta, currently counselor to President Barack Obama and formerly chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, attended a meeting at the Washington, D.C., offices of the Messina Group, founded by Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina.

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In the wacky world of Kansas politics, the big question is whether the GOP secretary of state's decision to keep the Democratic nominee on the Senate ballot is ultimately a bad thing for Democrats. Go figure.

The (allegedly) well-laid plans of Democrats in the Kansas Senate race were seemingly undone Thursday when Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) declared that Chad Taylor, the Democratic nominee who said he was withdrawing from the race, would remain on the ballot in November.

Democrats' apparent gambit was to get Taylor to clear the field for independent candidate Greg Orman, who flirted with running for Senate as a Democrat in 2008, to challenge incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). Democratic voters would presumably line up against anybody-but-Roberts, who would now be Orman with no Taylor to vote for, and a Republican incumbent would unexpectedly lose re-election in a national landscape where control of the Senate could come down to a single seat.

Taylor has said he will challenge the decision by Kobach, a member of Roberts' honorary campaign committee. But if the countermove stands, would it undo the Democratic gambit? Maybe, according to a local political scientist. At best, it would leave Orman with an exceedingly narrow path to victory.

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The Democratic Senate nominee in Kansas will not take being left on the ballot sitting down.

Chad Taylor said Thursday evening that he would challenge Secretary of State Kris Kobach's decision to keep his name on the ballot in November after Taylor filed paperwork Wednesday to withdraw from the race.

"I am planning to challenge the ruling of the Kansas Secretary of State," Taylor said in a statement emailed to reporters. He invoked Kobach's membership on incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts' honorary campaign committee and reiterated that he had consulted with a member of Kobach's office before filing his paperwork while announcing the challenge.

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In another huge twist in the Kansas Senate race, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) said Thursday that Democratic Senate candidate Chad Taylor must remain on the ballot despite his declaration that he would withdraw from the race.

Taylor announced Wednesday that he would drop out of the race and he filed paperwork with Kobach's office to officially withdraw. That would have pitted independent candidate Greg Orman against incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). Taylor's withdrawal was seen as a maneuver by Democrats because Orman, who was once a Democrat, had been shown polling ahead of Roberts and said he was open to caucusing with either party.

During a televised press conference Thursday afternoon, Kobach read from the relevant Kansas law, specifically the provision that states a candidate must declare "they are incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected." He said that Taylor had not made such a declaration.

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

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The National Republican Senatorial Campaign is moving to take charge of the troubled re-election campaign of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), deploying one of its campaign fixers to Kansas, the New York Times reported Thursday. The move comes after the state's U.S. Senate race was upended when the Democratic nominee announced Wednesday that he was dropping out.

The Times reported that Chris LaCivita, a longtime GOP operative known as "a political troubleshooter in past Republican campaigns," would be in Kansas by the weekend to assist Roberts.

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The breadcrumbs were there, but it's fair to say that Democrat Chad Taylor stunned the political world when he announced Wednesday that he was dropping out of the Kansas Senate race. That leaves independent Greg Orman, who was once a Democrat, to challenge incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) in November's general election.

It bewildered outsiders in part because Taylor was performing admirably for a Democrat in the state with the longest gap since it lasted elected one to the Senate. TPM's PollTracker average had Taylor trailing by less than 6 percentage points.

But did Democrats really think the best shot of knocking of Roberts was to clear the field for Orman, even if that meant getting their own nominee out of the race? Or was something else going on, too?

Political observers in Kansas suggest looking at the state's gubernatorial election contest. State Sen. Paul Davis (D) seems to have a real shot at knocking off Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative stalwart; Davis leads by 6 percentage points, per TPM's PollTracker average.

With Taylor out of the race, in-state Democrats can focus almost all of their attention on Davis. And if some recent polling is to be believed, Orman still has a realistic shot to beat Roberts and he's a former Democrat who's said he's open to caucusing with either party. That's a potential win-win.

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Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who is challenging Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), has expressed skepticism in the past that climate change is caused by man and is now drawing attacks from Democrats for it. But he's still touting his own green bonafides in a key Senate race that could turn on environmental and energy issues, releasing an ad this week that features Gardner striding in front of windmills and talking up his support for renewable power.

"What is a Republican like me doing at a wind farm?" Gardner asks the camera. "Supporting the next generation, that's what." He touts his authorship while in the state legislature of a law that "launch(ed) our state's green energy industry."

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Obamacare's Medicaid expansion has lately been making progress in unlikely places like Wyoming, where Republicans are being slowly swayed by business groups that it is a good financial deal for their state. But the quickest way to bring Medicaid expansion to the 23 states that have declined it so far would be a new state legislature or governor.

The former can be a little harder to anticipate. And according to some handicapping by Governing magazine's Lou Jacobson, it doesn't look like any legislatures are going to flip in a way that would have serious repercussions for Medicaid expansion, anyway, absent a change in the governor's house. Gubernatorial races, on the other hand, get a lot of national attention and as the head of the executive branch, governors have an outsized influence on the fate of Medicaid expansion.

So here are the five states where, if a Republican incumbent falters in November, Obamacare would have an opening.

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