TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Shawnee Co. DA Chad Taylor dropped out of the U.S. Senate Race on Wednesday.
In a statement released on Twitter, he thanked his supporters "financial, spiritual, and emotional."
Taylor was the Democratic Party's nominee, facing three-term incumbent Republican Pat Roberts and independent Greg Orman.
“This is certainly an unexpected turn of events," Orman said in a statement. "Chad Taylor is a committed public servant. He ran an honorable campaign and worked hard, and I wish him and his family well."
Roberts' campaign, though, called Taylor's decision to drop out a "smokescreen."
“Chad Taylor’s withdrawal from the U.S. Senate race reveals a corrupt bargain between Greg Orman and national Democrats including Senator Harry Reid that disenfranchises Kansas Democrats,” said Leroy Towns, Executive Campaign Manager for Pat Roberts for Senate. “We are confident that Kansas voters will quickly see through this charade foisted on Kansas by Orman and his Democrat allies.”
The latest Survey USA Poll, issued in late August, had Taylor trailing Roberts by 37 percent to 32 percent, with Orman at 20 percent of the vote. While the poll did show Taylor within five points, it also reflected a six-point jump for Orman since a previous SurveyUSA poll taken before the August primary.
Taylor had just released his first television commercial last week, highlighting his ties to the Sunflower State, including his time farming the land on which he was raised.
Earlier this month, the Democratic nominee in Kansas' 1st Congressional District has crossed party lines to endorse independent candidate Greg Orman for U.S. Senate.
Former Manhattan Mayor Jim Sherow is challenging Republican Congressmen Tim Huelskamp in the sprawling U.S. House district of western and central Kansas congressional district.
Sherow told The Associated Press on Thursday he believes Orman has the best chance to defeat Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in November.
A surprise in Kansas Wednesday night is setting the stage for an even more interesting U.S. Senate race this fall.
Democratic candidate Chad Taylor decided to drop out of the race, which means more support may go to an independent candidate against Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts.
In a statement to the Wichita Eagle, Taylor said, "After much consideration and prolonged discussion with my supporters, my staff, and party leadership at every level, I have decided to end my campaign for the United States Senate."
The move came hours after independent candidate Greg Orman announced support from a group of moderate Republicans.
Orman's campaign may have a better shot now that the contest has narrowed to a two-person race.
After word spread of Taylor's withdrawal, Orman in a statement said, "This is certainly an unexpected turn of events. Chad Taylor is a committed public servant. He ran an honorable campaign and worked hard, and I wish him and his family well."
As CNN Chief National Correspondent John King reported Sunday on growing GOP concern about Roberts' campaign, the GOP needs a gain of six seats to win the Senate majority. If the party lost a Republican-held seat, such as the one in Kansas, it would have to win another Democratic seat toward the goal of netting six.
"A number of top Republican strategists who have seen the latest research say (Roberts' re-election) is now hardly a sure thing," King said Sunday, while Democrat Taylor was still in the race.
"These strategists are furious with Roberts personally, and even more so with a campaign team they say has not risen to the challenge. So there is mounting pressure on the other Kansas senator, Jerry Moran, who just happens to lead the National Republican Senatorial Committee."
King added that "leading GOP voices" are pushing the NRSC to get more aggressive, including pushing for a shakeup in the Roberts campaign team.
"And in the GOP super-PAC community, there are conversations that it might become necessary to spend money in a state that no one thought would be -- or should be -- on a 2014 list of potential Democratic pickups," King said.
If the GOP super PACs have to suddenly shift money to Kansas, "a few GOP challengers in other states could see their outside help shrink," King said.
Thanks to our supporters - financial, spiritual and emotional.— Chad Taylor (@Taylor4USSenate) September 3, 2014
Kansas Democrat Party Chair, Joan Wagnon released the following statement:
"We thank Chad Taylor for his service as a candidate and his continued service as the elected District Attorney of Shawnee County. It is clear that Kansans are ready for new leadership. We will be monitoring this race closely."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.