Pompeo decides against Senate bid

Secretary of State informs Senate Majority Leader he will not run for Senate in Kansas this year.

Ben Ariel ,

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday to inform him that he would not run for Senate in Kansas this year, two people familiar with the meeting told the Politico news website.

Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas, had been heavily recruited by GOP leaders to run for retiring Sen. Pat Roberts' seat amid concerns that a fractured GOP primary field could put the seat in jeopardy next year as Republicans fight to protect their majority.

Reports first surfaced in November that Pompeo is planning to resign his position in the Trump administration ahead of a run for a Senate seat in Kansas.

A person close to Pompeo who confirmed Monday’s meeting to Politico attributed the decision to the recent developments in Iran.

A person close to McConnell confirmed that the two spoke Monday afternoon, when the Secretary of State indicated he would not run for Senate.

McConnell "believes Secretary Pompeo is doing an incredible job as secretary of state and is exactly where the country needs him to be right now,” the person close to McConnell said.

Pompeo could potentially change his mind down the road, Politico noted. The filing deadline for the Senate seat is June 1, and the primary is in August. GOP officials who have hoped Pompeo would run believed he could put together a campaign quickly that would clear the GOP primary field, even if the decision had been made close to the filing deadline.

If Pompeo sticks by his decision not to run, Republicans face a competitive and fractured primary field that could jeopardize a seat in a state where the party has not lost a Senate race in nearly a century.

Some GOP officials worry that Kris Kobach, the controversial Republican who lost the state's 2018 gubernatorial race, could put the seat in jeopardy if he emerges as the nominee, noted Politico.

Kobach, a hardline conservative, narrowly won the GOP gubernatorial primary over then-Gov. Jeff Colyer, but he lost the general election to Democrat Laura Kelly by 5 percentage points.

Private Republican polling has shown Kobach to be formidable in the primary. He is running in the GOP field against Rep. Roger Marshall and Susan Wagle, the state Senate president, among other candidates.

Democrats have rallied behind state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former Republican who switched parties a year ago and has earned endorsements from a number of Democratic officials in Washington and in Kansas.