U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo will not challenge U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran this year, he announced Monday after weeks of publicly considering a run for Senate.
“I will, today, file for re-election to the House of Representatives and seek to continue to represent the people of Kansas’ 4th congressional district with my full energy and commitment,” Pompeo’s campaign said in an email.
Pompeo’s decision to consider a run against a fellow Kansas Republican surprised many political onlookers. Moran had warned the move would lead to an influx of campaign dollars to Kansas, harming Republicans elsewhere in the country.
In his email Monday, Pompeo made a similar argument.
“Kansas is a big and glorious state. To simply blanket it with TV and radio ads and bombard voters with direct mail might well prove to be effective and sufficient to win in both August and November. But, it would not square with the way Susan and I view our obligation to you — nor be in the Team Pompeo tradition,” he said, referring to his wife.
Pompeo has sought to paint Moran as a moderate in the staunchly conservative state he represents. He repeatedly has criticized the senator’s suggestion that confirmation hearings should be held for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, a position on which Moran has since backtracked.
“As I watched this waffling up close, I began to contemplate a Senate run,” Pompeo wrote Monday.
Even as he declined to challenge Moran, the congressman further criticized him, saying it is “absurd” for Moran to defend his Senate record by touting how many town hall meetings he has attended.
“It’s the difference between motion and progress. Listening lacks value if no actions follow. The absence of positive outcomes fuels frustration and anger,” Pompeo said.
Moran issued a noncombative statement in response.
“I look forward to working with Congressman Pompeo and the entire Kansas congressional delegation to improve our state and nation for the next generation,” Moran said.
Two Democrats have filed with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office to run in the 2016 Senate race: Patrick Wiesner and Monique Singh. Al Zahnter, who ran as a Republican in 2014, is campaigning for Senate again this year.
If Moran can escape a primary challenge, history is on his side in a general election. Not only has the state not elected a Democratic senator since 1932, but every popularly elected incumbent senator has followed a primary victory with a general election win to a second term.
Pompeo’s decision means Kansas Treasurer Ron Estes, a Republican, will not run for Congress in 2016.
Estes was exploring a possible congressional run if Pompeo vacated his seat. With Pompeo running for re-election instead, Estes said Monday he will not challenge his fellow Republican.
“I will continue to work to promote the conservative principles of a transparent, efficient and limited government while serving the people of Kansas as state treasurer,” Estes said in a statement.