For months, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been dogged by rumors that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is trying to recruit him to run for Senate in his home state of Kansas — a claim that he has flatly denied.
Now, Time reports that multipler Republican sources have confirmed Pompeo does in fact have a Kansas Senate run on his radar. The only problem is that he can’t figure out a graceful way to exit the Trump administration.
Pompeo, who has largely remained in President Donald Trump’s good graces, has come under national scrutiny for his role in the Ukraine scandal, which has seen several foreign service officers and national security officials testifying that Trump set up a backchannel with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Ukrainian leadership to demand political help against former Vice President Joe Biden.
Over the past few weeks, Pompeo has made unusual stopovers in Kansas and given interviews to local radio shows, which further fueled speculation about his ambitions. If he were to run, he would likely have the backing of infamous GOP megadonor Charles Koch, who lives in the state.
Already, multiple other Republicans have declared runs for Senate in Kansas, including Congressman Roger Marshall and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and some Republican operatives are speculating it may be too late for Pompeo to easily clear the field. “If Pompeo was thinking he would cruise across the finish line on Trump’s coattails, he might want to rethink that assumption,” says one Kansas GOP lawmaker, noting that farmers in the state resent members of the Trump administration for losses from the trade war.
The eventual Republican nominee is a favorite to win the seat, vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Roberts, as Kansas has not elected a Democratic senator since 1936. But Democrats have a prized recruit in state Sen. Barbara Bollier, who was elected as a Republican before defecting over the GOP’s extreme policy positions.