Serving the Trump administration has given US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a spotlight of his own, but many have speculated he could be considering a bid for the US Senate. Senator Pat Roberts, from Pompeo’s home state of Kansas, is retiring after having held the seat for 24 years. For the Republican Party, Roberts’ exit leaves the door open for a Democratic challenger for what has historically been an incredibly safe seat.
Although Pompeo has been adamant about continuing to serve under Trump in Washington, his party (Pompeo previously served as a Republican representative) may need him to return to his roots. The 2020 election is already shaping up to be a pivotal year for the GOP after they badly lost the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. The Republican contingent of the Senate currently holds a six-seat edge over the Democrats, but many are predicting that could change after four incumbents including Roberts announced they would not seek reelection.
Kobach, The Massively-imperfect Candidate
In Kansas, the situation is even more dire as the leading Republican candidate going into the primaries is an individual called Kris Kobach. While serving as the Kansas Secretary of State, Kobach supported controversial policies such as strict voter ID laws and a Muslim registry. In 2017, he resigned his position to run for governor, easily winning the Republican nomination. Kobach lost the election, however, to his Democratic opponent.
Kobach carries an enormous amount of baggage with him into the 2020 election. He has repeatedly marred his career with controversy, ethical complaints, and questionable election oversight. An in-depth analysis of his strengths yields few highlights. Even his appointment to Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity generated touchy court battles. Kobach effectively served as head of the commission, which was decommissioned a mere six months after its creation.
A pattern of behavior such as Kobach’s creates legitimate concerns for the Republican Party ahead of the 2020 election. If Kobach manages to become the nominee, which is incredibly likely given his already established name recognition, Kansas could elect its first Democratic senator since 1932. Roberts’ seat itself has not been filled by a Democrat in over 100 years. Kansas is typically a Republican stronghold, to say the least.
Baggage-Free Pompeo Could Save The Kansas Seat For Republicans
Pompeo could enter the race to replace Kobach and quickly shoot to the top in the Republican primary. He is massively well-liked in Kansas and—unlike Kobach—brings no heavy baggage with him. Also unlike Kobach, Pompeo has managed to survive in Washington for longer than six months.
Both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are supportive of the idea if they deem the situation critical enough.
“If he thought that there was a chance of losing that seat, I think he would do that and he would win in a landslide because they love him in Kansas,” Trump said recently in an interview on “Fox & Friends,” adding “Mike would win easily in Kansas. Great state. And it’s a Trump state. He’d win easily.”
McConnell has pushed Pompeo even harder, perhaps because he is losing a solid Republican in Roberts and would like someone to fill his spot who he can rely on. Pompeo is certainly that party-line guy, aligning with the Republican Party at every opportunity. McConnell has provided Trump with poll numbers forecasting gloom in Kansas as a way of convincing him that Pompeo is their man to save the senate seat.
What Does Pompeo Have To Say?
For his part, Pompeo has done little except deny that he will run.
“I’ve watched my life take turns that one would never have expected. But it’s not something I want to do,” Pompeo said in a Fox News interview. “I want to stay here and continue to perform the mission that I’m serving President Trump and I hope doing a good term for the American people as well.”
However, on Dec. 27 he altered his website, MikePompeo.com, to direct users to his personal Twitter account, which was recently created. The change may be nothing more than cleaning up relics from his days serving as representative, but its timing naturally generated a buzz.
Pompeo understandably enjoys the gig he has now, but what happens if Trump loses in 2020? Where does that leave him? For a man loyal to his party, there is a certain argument to be made that sacrificing his post for the bigger picture may necessitate his run for senate. One thing is for certain: Kobach as a candidate is not an assured victory even in Kansas.