The last time we visited the Kansas Senate race, we noted that Republican Pat Roberts was at risk, but that he may have caught a lucky break when the Democratic candidate was not permitted to take his name off the ballot in order to unite around the independent candidate.

Having the Democrat’s name on the ballot would have siphoned away some votes from the independent challenger, helping Roberts.

The Kansas Supreme Court, however, ruled yesterday that the Democrat’s name must be removed from the ballot:

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that the state must remove the name of the Democratic candidate running against Republican Sen. Pat Roberts from the November ballot, adding another twist to a now-hotly contested race.

The court’s decision leaves independent Greg Orman, who has been rising in the polls, as the only major opponent currently in the running to take on the 78-year-old incumbent.

The court agreed with Democrat Chad Taylor, saying his formal letter of withdrawal to the secretary of state’s office was sufficient to get his name off the ballot.

The court also said it did not “need to act” regarding Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s “allegation” that the Democratic party must name a new candidate for the race. Kobach said earlier Thursday that the Democratic Party is legally obligated to pick a new nominee and set a Sept. 26 deadline.

There had been the possibility that Democrats would be forced to name a replacement:

[Secretary of State Chris] Kobach said Thursday that he would require the Democrats to select a replacement, a step he insisted was required by law. Mr. Kobach said he would extend the deadline to mail those ballots so the Democrats could pick someone else. If the party refuses to do so by noon next Friday, Mr. Kobach said he would “review our legal options.”

But, as of this writing, it appears the ballots will be sent out without a Democratic name, according to TPM:

In an apparent reversal, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office is instructing election officials in the state to send out overseas military ballots without Democratic Senate nominee Chad Taylor or any other Democratic Senate candidate listed.

Kobach spokeswoman Samantha Poetter confirmed to TPM that the ballots would be sent out by Saturday, the deadline under state and federal law.

“Our ballots are going out without Chad Taylor (or any Democratic candidate) for U.S. Senate,” Poetter said. “They’ve been ordered to send them out as soon as possible.”

TPM obtained a copy of the official order sent to local election officials.

“The list does NOT contain the name of a Democratic nominee for United States Senate,” the order said. “There are three candidates, Randall Batson, Libertarian, Greg Orman, independent, Pat Roberts, Republican.”

“All (overseas military) ballots MUST go out by tomorrow to comply with the 45 day requirement under state and federal law,” it said.

Orman is pushing his supposed independence, even though Democrats are uniting behind him and maneuvering for him to defeat Roberts. Democrats don’t care who holds the seat, so long as it’s not a Republican with control of Senate possibly hinging on one seat.

This all raises a bigger question as to Roberts’ viability. He’s just a horrible campaigner, and doesn’t seem comfortable in his home state. I hope Roberts wins, but someone has to shake him out of his stupor.

Polling shows a tight race, with a Rasmussen poll released today showing Roberts trailing by 5 points.

As for Roberts’ Republican challenger, Dr. Milton Wolff, from whom Roberts had to be rescued by the NRSC, comes the obvious: