According to the Washington Examiner, “Senior Republicans are floating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as their preferred successor to Sen. Pat Roberts.” Other names are being floated as well, but more on that in a minute.
A K-State alum, Roberts announced his retirement Friday in Manhattan at the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The location has particular meaning in that the 82-year-old Roberts successfully led the fight to pass the farm bill last month with historic majorities. Roberts served in the U.S. Senate for 22 years and in the House for 16 years before that.
“If Roberts steps aside, it’ll trigger a GOP primary that could make the #ksgov race look tame by comparison,” tweeted Bryan Lowry of the Kansas City Star, but Lowry overlooks the heft that Pompeo would bring to the race.
“Everybody wants Mike Pompeo,” a senior Republican strategist told the Examiner. “He would clear the field and cruise to a general election victory in a state where Republicans had mixed success last cycle. Everybody who cares about maintaining our Senate majority wants him to be our candidate.”
The strategist is right. The other candidates whose names are being floated–Rep. Roger Marshall, former Gov. Jeff Colyer, former Rep. Kevin Yoder, former Secretary of State Kris Kobach–would be very hard pressed to mount a serious campaign against Pompeo. If Pompeo were the nominee, Democrats would likely offer only token resistance. As secretary of state, Pompeo has no job security beyond the next two years. A senate candidacy would make for a graceful exit from the Trump White House.
In April, Pompeo will have served as secretary of state for a year. He has some serious credentials. For 16 months, he was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and for six years before that he represented Kansas’s 4th District in the House of Representatives. A serious conservative, Pompeo has a 97 percent rating from the American Conservative Union.
Of Italian ancestry, Pompeo was born in Orange County, California, attended West Point, served in the US Army for five years, got his law degree from Harvard, and moved to Wichita in 1998 to start an aviation business. He just turned 55 last week.
If elected to the Senate in 2020, Pompeo is the kind of candidate who would have a realistic shot at the White House in 2024.