Plaintiff Is No-Show In Kansas Senate Lawsuit, Putting Kobach Ploy In Doubt

September 29, 2014 6:06 p.m.

The registered Democratic voter who sued to force his party to pick a new Senate nominee in Kansas did not appear at a Monday hearing for the case, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported, and the judges hearing it are now considering whether the lawsuit can continue without him.

David Orel, a registered Democrat in Kansas City, Kan., whose son is a campaign staffer for Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, filed the lawsuit shortly after the Kansas Supreme Court overturned Secretary of State’s Kris Kobach’s decision and took Democratic nominee Chad Taylor off the ballot.

Kobach had requested to be made a party in the case, siding with Orel in arguing that the state Democratic Party should be forced to name a new nominee who would square off against independent candidate Greg Orman and incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R). The lawsuit is effectively Kobach’s last chance to get a Democratic candidate on the ballot in November.

Orel’s lawyer Thomas Haney, who previously told TPM that his client did not want to be interviewed about the case, came under intense questioning from the three-judge district court panel about Orel’s absence, the newspaper reported. The judges then broke to decide whether the case was still viable without Orel’s attendance.

Randy Rathburn, a lawyer for the Kansas Democratic Party, said he had wanted to ask Orel if he was really a Democrat and whether he had voted in the August primary.

“He filed a lawsuit against the Democratic party in the midst of a heated campaign, then thumbs his nose at this court and refuses to come to today’s proceeding,” he said, according to the Capital-Journal.

Kobach has asked the court to issue a decision by Wednesday so that new ballots can be printed.

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