WASHINGTON -- Republican political donors have been told to hold off contributing to the 2020 U.S. Senate race in Kansas in the expectation that Secretary of State Michael Pompeo may decide to run, according to two people familiar with the matter.
A Pompeo ally has been advising potential contributors to wait until after the secretary of State makes his decision, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a private message communicated to donors. The top U.S. diplomat and former CIA director, who served as a congressman in Kansas's 4th district from 2011-2017, has until June to enter the race.
Pompeo has given mixed signals about his intentions. In a July interview with David Rubenstein at the Economic Club of Washington, he said: "It's off the table. As a practical matter, I'm going to serve as secretary of State every day that I get the chance to do so."
But asked earlier in the month about running for the Senate, Pompeo told KCMO Radio -- which broadcasts in Kansas -- that "I always need to be open to the possibility that something will change and my path in life will change too."
A Pompeo spokeswoman declined to comment.
As he weighs his decision, Pompeo has been courted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republican leaders who are anxious that a Democratic candidate could claim the seat that will open with fellow Republican Pat Roberts's retirement.
The race has become crowded with Republican candidates, including immigration hard-liner Kris Kobach and Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, though several candidates have said they'd bow out if Pompeo gets in.
While Pompeo has been equivocal about a possible run, his actions and speeches have only fueled speculation that he's laying the groundwork for a Senate bid -- and possibly a presidential run in 2024.
The West Point graduate, who was born in California, has continued to do outreach to Kansas officials and voters, regularly visiting his adopted home state. He recently met with the Kansas contingent at a Veterans of Foreign Wars conference in Orlando, Fla. He also plans to return to the state in September to deliver a speech at Kansas State University.
One of the people who discussed Pompeo's plans said the secretary of State has also met with potential political donors in New York and California.