Sen. Roberts’ retirement could spur wild 2020 race
Sen. Pat Roberts fired the starting pistol for what could be a wild U.S. Senate race in Kansas with his announcement Friday that he won’t seek re-election in 2020.
The GOP primary to replace Roberts could pit outgoing Gov. Jeff Colyer against Rep. Roger Marshall, who represents Roberts’ old U.S. House seat in “The Big First,” a massive western Kansas district that also produced former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Sen. Jerry Moran.
But that’s just the start of the list. Open senate seats are a rare political opportunity, often a once-in-a-generation chance to join the exclusive 100-member club.
It’s likely to make last year’s heavily contested race for Kansas governor look tame by comparison.
“There’s only two U.S. Senate seats from Kansas. They’re not making anymore,” quipped David Kensinger, a longtime GOP consultant who has previously managed Senate campaigns for both Roberts and Sam Brownback.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt also is weighing a run after being elected to a third term as the state’s top law enforcement official in November.
“Our country needs thoughtful, effective conservative voices in the U.S. Senate. AG Schmidt will talk with family, friends and supporters about what Senator Roberts’ retirement means for Kansas’ voice in Washington going forward,” said Schmidt’s spokesman Clint Blaes.
Schmidt worked as an aide to former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kansas, early in his career and served as majority leader of the Kansas Senate before becoming at- torney general. He’s also managed to stay popular with both the conservative and moderate factions of the Republican Party in recent years.
Even one of President Donald Trump’s cabinet secretaries has been floated as a candidate.
A Republican primary in 2020 could pit, from left, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, outgoing Gov. Jeff Colyer, and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.