The early entry of State Treasurer Jake LaTurner into the Republican field for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Pat Roberts in 2020 is about getting him momentum, according to a Washburn political scientist.
“It does show how much many Republicans think this Senate seat is so valuable to run for and how interested they are,” said Beatty. “It shows that LaTurner was pretty anxious to move on. A lot of people had been mentioning this that had heard his name for the Second District last year. He is pretty young, but I think the main reason he’s in is to show he’s serious, to get started on fundraising and really try to get a little bit of the publicity that comes by being the first.”
The last several Senators to serve have come from being the Big First District congressman. That seat is currently held by Dr. Roger Marshall.
“This is going to be 2020,” said Beatty. “The 2018 midterms, I think, demonstrated the possibility of some new faces for the state. Steve Watkins emerged out of nowhere, obviously Sharice Davids. One thing I do want to add is the Trump precedent. It’s not that he came out of nowhere, but he came out sort of unexpectedly and won. He was also in a field of seventeen Republican presidential candidates.”
Beatty’s point is that with as wide open a race as the Republican side is, we have no idea who their nominee may be.
“Kansas had a record number of gubernatorial candidates,” said Beatty. “The Second District last year had a record number of candidates. I think, one, we may see, again, a large number of candidates, but two, we may break this pattern of, for the U.S. Senate, western Kansas being so darn important.”
There’s also the possibility of a non-politician with large name recognition finding a way through, much like President Trump did. Whether that can happen in Kansas still remains to be seen.