(Adds response by Kansas secretary of state, last paragraph)
By Kevin Murphy
KANSAS CITY, Kan., Sept 10 (Reuters) - The Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Kansas has asked the state's Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by the secretary of state that he cannot withdraw from the nationally watched race.
In a petition filed on Tuesday, Democrat Chad Taylor asked the high court for a restraining order to prevent Secretary of State Kris Kobach from putting Taylor's name on the ballot. If granted, Taylor's move could boost the chances of independent candidate Greg Orman defeating incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts.
The Taylor candidacy is being watched nationally because Republicans are trying to gain control of the Senate in November elections and had counted on Roberts winning. A Taylor withdrawal could shift votes to Orman, making it tougher for Roberts, who had to stave off a strong primary challenge.
A poll taken by SurveyUSA and aired on Monday by KSN-TV of Wichita found Orman with 37 percent support, compared to 36 percent for Roberts and 10 percent for Taylor.
Taylor, a prosecuting attorney, filed paperwork last week to withdraw from the race. Kobach said Taylor failed to follow state law in that he did not specify that he would be incapable of serving if elected.
In his petition, Taylor said that by signing the withdrawal documents citing the applicable state law, he was declaring himself incapable of serving. Taylor has not said publicly why he wanted to withdraw nor why he would be unable to serve.
Taylor alleges in the petition that politics motivated Kobach's decision to keep him on the ballot. Taylor said Kobach, a Republican, is an honorary member of the Roberts campaign and wants the senator to win reelection.
Kobach said last week that politics played no part in his ruling and that it is clear Taylor did not follow the law.
An attorney for Kobach said in a court filing on Wednesday that a district court, not the state Supreme Court, had jurisdiction and that Kansas Democrats would be required to name a replacement nominee if Taylor's request were granted. (Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Bill Trott and Eric Beech)