Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been repeatedly asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to consider running for the soon-to-be vacated Senate seat currently held by long-time Senator Pat Roberts (R-KA), according to the Associated Press.
Pompeo, who briefly served as CIA director before assuming his current position, has publicly denied that he has any interest in running for Senate. According to the Wall Street Journal, in late July he told the Economic Club of Washington that the idea is "off the table."
But the Associated Press notes that if Pompeo does not decide to run, it could lead to the party nominating Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state who lost his race for governor last year.
"Some in the party are afraid [Kobach] will again tap a conservative base, emerge from a crowded primary, alienate moderate voters and lose an otherwise safe seat that Republicans likely need to maintain their narrow Senate majority," says the news agency."
Republican adviser David Kensinger says "Pompeo getting into the race solves the problem," reports the Associated Press.
At his inaugural campaign speech last month, Kobach spoke strongly in favor of President Trump's agenda. Kobach also declared to his supporters that "this is not the time for a quiet senator," as reported by the Kansas City Star
"It's not a time for a senator who wants to make everybody happy and doesn't want to take a stand. It's not a time for a senator who is Republican-lite," said Kobach.
The Kansas City Star notes that "Democrats view Kobach's entry into the race as an opportunity to win a Senate seat in the GOP-leaning state for the first time since 1932." Democrats plan to direct "major" money to the race if Kobach ultimately wins the nomination, the outlet reports.
As noted by The Wall Street Journal, Kobach is also one of the few declared candidates who has not agreed to leave the race should Mike Pompeo declare his candidacy. "I would have to assess the situation," he said about the prospect of bowing out.
While sources have told the Journal that Pompeo is McConnell's preferred candidate, Pompeo has also signaled that he may have future presidential aspirations after President Trump leaves office.
"America has given me an awful lot," said Pompeo, as reported by the Washington Examiner last month. "And if I thought I could do a good turn, there's nothing I wouldn't consider doing for America."
The filing deadline to run for the open seat is June 1, 2020.