Mike Pompeo For Senate?

With Pat Roberts retiring, Kansas Republicans are reportedly looking at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to succeed him.

On Saturday, I made note of the fact that Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas had announced that he would not be running for re-election in 2020, making him the second Republican Senator to make such an announcement in the early days of the new year. Now it’s being reported that one of the top recruits in the minds of Republicans to take his place is none other than the Secretary of State:

Senate Republican strategists are pushing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as a failsafe candidate to keep retiring Sen. Pat Roberts’s (Kan.) seat in Republican hands in 2020, fearing the state could give Democrats an upset victory.

The push comes as Kansas Republicans have been chastened by recent Democratic victories in the state’s race for governor, where Laura Kelly beat conservative Republican Kris Kobach, and a key House race, where Democrat Sharice Davids beat incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder (R).

“We lost a governor’s race. We lost a key House race for a seat that was held by Republicans for several terms. We can’t afford to head into November of 2020 worried about whether a Republican can hang onto the Senate seat in a Republican state like Kansas,” said a Senate GOP strategist.

“If Mike Pompeo is the nominee in Kansas, the race comes off the map,” the strategist added. “And, by the way, he would make a phenomenal senator.”

Republicans are also worried about a strong Democratic performance in the 2020 presidential election, when Democratic turnout is typically stronger, and Trump’s low popularity in suburban areas, as seen in the 2018 midterm election.

Strategists say that Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R) narrow reelection over liberal Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) in Texas opened their eyes to the danger faced by Republican candidates even in deep-red states because of the unpredictable political currents stoked by Trump.

“Trump has a serious problem with urban women,” said a third GOP strategist with strong ties to Kansas.

“Even in Texas, there was a massive undervote where 300,000 Republican voters who supported Greg Abbot didn’t support Cruz,” the source added, referring to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s reelection.

There’s fear among Republicans that Trump may weigh on the federal race by turning off middle-of-the-road Republicans and suburban women.

The GOP strategist with Kansas ties noted that two lawmakers from the Kansas City suburbs, state Sen. Dinah Sykes and state Rep. Stephanie Clayton, last month announced they would leave the Republican Party to represent their districts as Democrats.

“I’m sure McConnell is nervous,” the source said, speculating that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would love to see Pompeo run for Roberts’s seat. “If you can have someone like Kevin Yoder lose in the 3rd District, I would be nervous. That state is purple.”

That last highlighted statement is a fascinating one. The idea that Kansas, which has long been viewed as one of the reddest of all the red states, where a Republican has won the Presidential election in nearly every Presidential election since it as admitted to the Union, is turning purple in the slightest is something that comes as a shock to say the very least. Yes, it’s true that a Democrat narrowly won the Governor’s election in November but the state is still dominated by Republicans. At the same time, though, it’s worth noting that Kansas Republicans have changed significantly since the days of Bob Dole and Nancy Kassabaum and that Roberts represents this older generation much more than the newer, Trump Era, Republican Party. That wing of the party is, of course, best represented by former Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has made a career out of unsupported ideas about voter fraud and other ultra-conservative ideas. In addition to Kobach, Kansas is also coming out of eight years of Governor Sam Brownback, whose fiscal policies did significant damage to the state. Finally, there’s the Trump factor and the fact that the President is becoming a turnoff to suburban voters even in some traditionally red states. Take all this together, and while it’s unlikely that a Democrat could win the Sunflower State in 2020, the prospect of Kansas electing a Democratic Senator — something it has not done since George McGill was elected in the Election of 1932 and has only happened two other times since Kansas became a state — should not be entirely dismissed.

Pompeo, of course, had served as a Congressman from Kansas’s Fourth Congressional District since being elected in 2010. After he won the 2016 election, the President nominated Pompeo to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency where he served until April when he became Secretary of State after the departure of Rex Tillerson. I don’t know enough about Kansas politics to speak to the question of whether he really is the strongest potential candidate that the state GOP has right now, but if it’s true it will be interesting to see if he chooses to take them up on the offer or decides to stay at Foggy Bottom. Of course, if Pompeo does leave the State Department it would mean that Trump would have to nominate his third Secretary of State in three years.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Congress, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    I’d love to see him run. Kansas just elected a Dem Governor after the nightmare of Sam Brownback. Please, please run, Mr. Pompeo. Let’s get a Kansas Dem Senator.

    ReplyReply
  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Pompeo has the requisite dishonesty, servility and lack of integrity to be a Republican Senator.

    ReplyReply
  3. @EddieInCA:

    I would not count your chickens before they’ve hatched. As I said, I tend to doubt the idea that Kansas is turning purple. Indeed, if the GOP nominee for Governor had been virtually anyone other than Kobach I have a feeling the Democrat would have lost.

    ReplyReply
  4. Teve says:

    the other day I commented that Trump called Kevin McCarthy Steve, and someone asked me for verification, and I was tired and didn’t feel like going back through Twitter to find a link. Here’s a link. Sorry for the delay.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/davidmackau/status/1081270057475416064

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  5. @Teve:

    Most likely he was confusing McCarthy with Steve Scalise

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  6. EddieInCA says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doug, I think the GOP is making a huge mistake is understanding how TOXIC Donald Trump is becoming with Women, Youth, and Minorities. It doesn’t take a huge shift to move a state from Red to Blue – see Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

    The people of Kansas know, first hand, what the GOP has done to the state. You have two State level legislatures have already switched from GOP to Dems AFTER THEY WERE ELECTED JUST A FEW WEEKS AGO. More will follow.

    No. Kansas won’t become a blue state overnight. But running someone like Pompeo, who the Dems can tie to Trump and all the bad GOP policies that have decimated Kansas, will make it easier for a well-known Dem candidate to run and win for that senate seat. It’s also rumoured that Matt Schlapp, of the American Conservative Union, will also run. He, too, would be toast, I believe.

    Run Pompeo, run!!!

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  7. Teve says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Doug, I think the GOP is making a huge mistake is understanding how TOXIC Donald Trump is becoming with Women, Youth, and Minorities.

    the problem the GOP has is that there aren’t gatekeepers anymore, and the voters actually get to decide who represents them, and Donald Trump’s stupidity, amorality, and bigotry represents them better than any previous candidate.

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  8. Mister Bluster says:

    @Doug Mataconis:..Most likely he was confusing McCarthy with Steve Scalise.

    Kinda like he was confused and thought Karen McDougal was his wife after Barron was born.
    Even if Scalise was holding a baby Pud would have called McCarthy by the wrong name beacause he is that brain dead!

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  9. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I tend to doubt the idea that Kansas is turning purple. Indeed, if the GOP nominee for Governor had been virtually anyone other than Kobach I have a feeling the Democrat would have lost.

    I think Kansas has shown a definite willingness to elect Democratic governors while remaining comfortably red in presidential and Senate elections. Kathleen Sebelius won twice, the second time in a landslide. And Brownback won reelection only very narrowly in 2014. Now, you might conclude from that that if a governor as bad as Brownback can win reelection at all, that shows how hard it is for Dems to win in the state. But it was also 2014, a bad year for Dems in general (I don’t think Brownback would have survived in 2018), and the fact that they kept it as close as they did suggests the governorship is winnable for Dems under the right circumstances, not simply unique to having a candidate like Kobach.

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  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kylopod:

    I think Kansas has shown a definite willingness to elect Democratic governors …

    Kansas in in many ways the mirror image of Massachusetts, the Bay State has regularly elects Repubs governor despite that fact membership in the Republican party is nearly a rounding error of the states electorate.

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  11. Gustopher says:

    I think he has a likability problem. He should try smiling more, and not being such a scold.

    ReplyReply
  12. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Kansas in in many ways the mirror image of Massachusetts, the Bay State has regularly elects Repubs governor despite that fact membership in the Republican party is nearly a rounding error of the states electorate.

    Well it hasn’t quite reached that point. After Dukakis retired in 1991, 5 of MA’s 6 governors since then have been Republicans. That’s pretty remarkable for a state so blue in all other ways. A better analogue to Kansas might be Maryland, which has only elected two Republican governors since Agnew in the 1960s, both of them got in facing bad Democratic opponents during good Republican years, and both developed brands as centrists who maintained independence from the national party.

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  13. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think he has a likability problem. He should try smiling more, and not being such a scold.

    That reminds me of Jon Stewart’s impression of Reince Priebus after the “autopsy report” in 2013: “Remember, when you tell a gay person that their love is too unnatural for society to recognize–smile!”

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Republican strategist after Republican strategist in the above article cite trump as being a major drag on GOP candidates in Kansas and yet they want to nominate a high ranking trump cabinet member for the open Senate seat?

    Seems like the GOP lost more than just 40 House seats in the 2018 election. I think they’ve lost their last vestige of sanity.

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  15. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    Mass. Republicans are a different breed–entirely–from southern or midwestern Repubs. They’re predominantly fiscal, and, to a slightly lesser extent, law and order Repubs. Otherwise, it’s laissez-faire. No one here could get elected dog catcher running around on an anti-abortion platform. Mass.was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Romney’s resistance to it was pretty token.

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  16. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kylopod:

    I think Kansas has shown a definite willingness to elect Democratic governors while remaining comfortably red in presidential and Senate elections.

    I think that Kansas is a Republican, but a relatively Moderate Republican state. They might vote for Bob Dole or Nancy Kassebaum, but people like Trump are a different story. Specially if the situation with tariffs get worse.

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  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kylopod:
    @CSK:

    While there are notable exceptions, Republicans are a far different breed in New England than in much of the country. In New Hampshire after the 2010 elections Repugs had veto proof majorities in both houses of the state legislature, it was expected that they would repeal marriage equality. For a number of reasons the issue did not come up till the 2012 session and the repeal bill was crushed in the House. About half the Repub caucus was libertarians and they joined the Dems in protecting the law. That is pretty typical of NE Repubs, fiscally conservative, socially moderate and generally small government.

    ReplyReply
  18. MarkedMan says:

    I would be astounded if Pompeo didn’t run. A soft landing from the Trump administration must be the dream of everyone who works in the White House. Why would he stay? Loyalty to Trump, because he knows Trump has his back? Laughable. Loyalty to the country? He’s a Republican, his first loyalty (after loyalty to himself) is the Republican Party and their sponsors.

    And who knows, Kansas might vote him down, which would be great, given the fiasco that Republican/Libertarian policies have been there. BTW, I am truly curious what the Libertarians are saying about Kansas. It was practically their wet dream, with policies dictated by the Libertarian “think tanks” and all the support and messaging money in the world from the Libertarian billionaire power brokers. Yet it was a disaster. What is the Libertarian Party line? No True Scotsman? Pretend it didn’t happen? One tack I’m virtually certain they are not taking: a reevaluation of their principles and methods based on how they worked out in a real world situation.

    ReplyReply
  19. al Ameda says:

    I know this seems like minutiae, but is Pompeo planning to change his permanent residence from Benghazi to Kansas?

    ReplyReply

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