A United States Senate seat in Kansas that has been safely in Republican control for decades is feared to be up for grabs by some in the GOP, according to a recent report by NPR‘s Jim McLean. The party has had a lock on both senate seats from that state since the Great Depression, but a lack of viable Republican candidates and renewed energy from the Democratic party reportedly has some conservative leaders worried. McLean pointed to a June 1 filing deadline as the biggest source of concern from Republican leaders.
Party officials are reportedly not confident any of the people who have registered to run for the retiring Pat Roberts’ seat will be able to maintain the stranglehold. On the other hand, Democrats are hoping a victory in Kansas will help them flip control in the Senate. Should the Senate change hands and the Democrats maintain control in the house, party leaders on both sides say it would be a massive shift in power in Washington. Higher-ups on both sides of the aisle also point to a potential win by Joe Biden over Donald Trump as a continued shift towards the Democrats.
McLean reported concerns over Kansas have prompted current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to once again attempt to recruit Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to run. So far, Pompeo has been reluctant to seek the seat. Reports from earlier this year said the former congressman had his eyes on the state’s governorship a few years down the road.
Some Republicans are hopeful Pompeo will be a “last-minute” addition to the race but there is great uncertainty about that. McConnell recently appeared on Fox News and told the hosts the “suspense” wouldn’t last much longer.
Mike Kuckelman, chair of the Kansas Republican Party said he hasn’t heard anything to convince him Pompeo will change his mind about running. Kuckelman told McLean he thinks the secretary of state has been clear he doesn’t have an interest in the seat.
Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle dropped out of the race on Thursday of last week. McLean said that’s a sign the GOP is attending to thin the herd and avoid a bruising primary fight at the very least. Some took her leaving as a sign Pompeo had indeed signaled he would enter. Last week, Wagle told the media she would suspend her campaign for the Senate only if the secretary decided to get into the race.
According to McLean, Republicans are most worried about former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach winning the primary. Some inside the party feel he’s the kind of polarizing figure that could lead to a big turnout on the Democratic side in November.
The Kansas primaries are scheduled for August 4.