With more candidates looking to enter the U.S. Senate Republican primary in 2020 for the seat currently held by the retiring Pat Roberts, an important point will be finding a way to run against former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach without being perceived as against President Donald Trump.
“That can be difficult,” said University of Kansas political scientist Patrick Miller. “Kobach is very much like Donald Trump. In fact, he’s been described as Trump before Trump was Trump. They are intimately related politically, in terms of the issues that they emphasize and even their approach to politics.”
One potential area of difference is electability after Kobach’s loss to Laura Kelly in the Governor’s race in 2018.
“That may still linger out there for some Republican voters who have the question of, could he really hold on to a Senate seat?” Miller said. “A Senate seat is not the same as Governor. I think that’s really the one point where you might be able to hit Kobach and we’ve seen some people criticize him on that front.”
Miller, at this point, is making the assumption that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will stay in his current job, despite persistent rumors attempting to keep the idea of a candidacy alive.
“There’s not really any sign he’s going to run,” said Miller. “People keep fantasizing about that and talking about it like some kind of fantasy football game.”
Miller said he’s much more interested in the dynamics of the race to be Kobach’s challenger at this point and that people should take Pompeo at his word until he says otherwise.