Candidates, Sedgwick County Republican Party discuss Pompeo Senate-run rumors

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is not running for U.S. Senate, a State Department spokesperson tells Axios, a political news and information site.

Jonathan Swan, a reporter for Axios, tweeted Tuesday night that he spoke to Morgan Ortagus, the State Department spokesperson.

Ortagus told Swan that she spoke to Pompeo and Time Magazine's report is completely false. She went on to say he is 100 percent focused on being President Trump's Secretary of State.

On Wednesday, Eyewitness News attempted to independently confirm the status of Pompeo's plans. Neither his aides nor the Republican candidates who already entered the Senate race to replace soon-to-be-retired Pat Roberts are saying much.

The current list of GOP candidates vying for the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat include Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Eyewitness News spoke with the head of the Sedgwick County Republican Party about how the local party is handling the latest rumors.

"The only thing we've heard is actually from the media asking for requests as far as if we know anything," Sedgwick County Republican Party Executive Director Ben Sauceda says. "Up until this point, we haven't heard anything."

Sauceda says the latest round of rumors is no different than rumors that were circulating six months ago, but he understands why people are so interested in Pompeo's potential plans.

"I mean, anytime that you have a secretary of state considering a run in their home state, that's going to be big news," Sauceda says.

He says if Pompeo enters the race, it would have a major impact on next August's Primary and the Senate race's current front-runners.

Congressman Marshall announced his Senate run in September, saying he didn't anticipate Pompeo to join the race. His spokesperson says they're standing by that.

Wednesday morning, Wagle issued a statement saying Pompeo has repeatedly denied a Senate run when asked about his future plans this summer and earlier this fall. She says it's "unfortunate" the national media is bringing him again to have to address the rumors.

"It's time for the press to allow Mike Pompeo to do his job, and spend less time having to correct false stories. It's also time for the news media to start covering all the Kansas 2020 Senate candidates, including a trusted conservative woman with a track record of breaking barriers who can insure this seat stays Republican," Wagle says.

Eyewitness News was unable to reach Kris Kobach for comment on Wednesday.

Sauceda indicated that the Republican Party isn't reaching out to Pompeo as at this point and that "we're dealing with rumors."

"If there was anything more significant, we would look into at least trying to get some clarification," he says.

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A report from Time Magazine released Tuesday indicates Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will run for U.S. Senate.

The report says Pompeo has told three prominent Republicans in recent weeks he plans to resign from the Trump Administration to run for Senate. It says Pompeo's plan had been to remain at the State Department until early spring of next year (2020), but recent developments, including the impeachment probe into President Trump are causing changes.

The three sources cited in the Time article are anonymous, but the magazine claims one served in the Trump Administration, one is still in government, and the third has served in several high-ranking posts and is active in GOP politics.

The Time report follows months of speculation that Secretary Pompeo could step down to run for Senate. In previous interviews over recent months, Pompeo repeatedly has said he plans to continue serving as Secretary of State, but speculation and the latest report comes with an apparent shift in his professional relationship with the president.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and Democratic political analyst Paul Begala weighed in on Pompeo's possible next move Tuesday night at the Wichita Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner where the pair served as guest speakers.

Steele says he believes Pompeo is doing what he enjoys right now, but also says he wouldn't be surprised if Pompeo sought another opportunity to serve.

Begala says he believes Pompeo can't survive in President Trump's administration and believes he needs to get out.