McClatchy, the ailing mothership of the Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star, has designated its challenger for the seat of Republican U. S. Senator Pat Roberts.

The McClatchy DC Bureau site features a large, toothsome photo of Leawood attorney Barry Grissom under the headline, “‘Purple’ Kansas? Former federal prosecutor mulls Senate run against Pat Roberts.”

If nothing else, Barry Grissom certainly looks like a senator.

An Obama appointee, Grissom served as U.S. attorney for Kansas from 2010 to 2016. He now works for Polsinelli, a Kansas City law firm.

There is no truth to the rumor that Pat Roberts was one of the Founding Fathers. That said, Roberts has served 22 years in the Senate and 16 years in the House before that. If he chooses to run in 2020, he will be 84-years-old.

Although 84 is not particularly old by Senate standards–South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond served until he was 100–McClatchy reporter Bryan Lowry peppers his article with multiple references to Roberts’s age, proof that ageism is only an offense if Republicans are the culprits.

Burdett Loomis, the ubiquitous KU political science professor and pundit, sees himself as immune from the charge. “I can just see the ads. Pat Roberts will be 90 by the time he leaves office,” Loomis scoffs. “You certainly don’t want to look at an 84-year-old who almost got beat in the primary six years ago and say this is the guy we want to have running.” To his credit, Lowry acknowledges that Loomis is not exactly the nonpartisan pundit he appears to be, having “served in former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ administration.”

Lowry, in fact, does a fair job pricking Grissom’s trial balloon. He quotes Roberts spokeswoman Sarah Little to the effect that “Barack Obama hired Grissom and he was a favorite of (former Attorney General) Eric Holder. That’s about all you need to know.”

“I think the senator’s main vulnerability would be in a primary,” added Nathan Gonzales, the editor and publisher of the nonpartisan Washington-based Inside Elections. “I know Democrats just won the governorship, but I think that had more to do with (GOP nominee Kris) Kobach and maybe Brownback than Kansas lurching to the left.”

Lowry suggests outgoing Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer and Rep. Roger Marshall as potential candidates should Roberts choose not to run. Colyer would seem to be the more likely of the two. If Colyer did run, barring the unforeseen Grissom have to wonder come November 2020 why he ever thought of running.

 

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