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Republicans Face “Messy” Kansas Primary As Pompeo Stays Out Of the Race

Senior GOP Officials Fail to Persuade Pompeo, Now Faced With “Divisive and Crowded” Primary

Today marked the Senate filing deadline for Kansas’ primary and despite months of cajoling from senior GOP officials in Washington desperate to protect yet another vulnerable Republican Senate seat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to throw his hat in the ring, leaving behind a “messy” Republican primary. A new POLITICO report details the growing concerns among Republicans that the “divisive and crowded” primary could lead to a “competitive race in Kansas” which would be “costly” for a Republican Party already on defense. The eventual Republican nominee will face a strong Democratic opponent in Dr. Barbara Bollier, who has widespread support and outraised the entire Republican field in the first quarter. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

POLITICO: GOP faces messy Kansas primary after Pompeo Senate dream dies

By James Arkin

June 1, 2020

Key Points:

  • Mike Pompeo isn’t running for Senate — officially.
  • After months of speculation and cajoling from senior Republicans eager to protect a Senate seat in deep-red Kansas, the secretary of state did not stage a last-minute entrance ahead of Monday’s filing deadline.
  • Now, Republicans face a divisive and crowded August primary in the race to replace retiring Sen. Pat Roberts, threatening the GOP’s near-century long winning streak in Kansas Senate races. Republicans are on defense across this year’s Senate map, and a competitive race in Kansas this fall would be costly as the party fights to retain control of the chamber.
  • The concern from national Republicans centers around Kris Kobach, the controversial former Kansas secretary of state who lost the state’s gubernatorial race in 2018 by 5 percentage points. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has opposed his candidacy from the outset, a rare intervention to try to head off a candidate Washington Republicans see as a drag on the party.
  • But the race features nearly a dozen candidates, including businessman Bob Hamilton, who has loaned his campaign a significant sum and already run a heavy slate of TV ads portraying himself as a conservative outsider. Former NFL player Dave Lindstrom is also on the ballot, along with several other, lesser-known Republicans.
  • The crowded primary potentially increases Kobach’s path to the nomination over a split field, though some Republicans were buoyed last week when state Senate president Susan Wagle dropped out of the race, citing the need for the party to avoid a contentious primary.
  • Democrats have rallied behind Barbara Bollier, a state senator and former Republican who recently switched parties and is running as a moderate who can appeal to crossover voters. Bollier is essentially unopposed in the primary and has support from key national organizations and Kansas Democrats, including Gov. Laura Kelly and former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. She outraised the entire GOP field in the first quarter, hauling in nearly $2.4 million.
  • Still, many Republicans are fearful that Kobach’s weak fundraising and staunch positions on immigration and other issues will make the race unnecessarily close, potentially jeopardizing the majority and, at a minimum, diverting resources from other races. 

Read the full report here.

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