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Trump picked Kansas Republicans' gubernatorial candidate. Will he do it again for Senate?

Bryan Lowry, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump could anoint the nominee when Kansas Republicans choose a replacement for Sen. Pat Roberts next year.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would be a front-runner for the seat if he decided to give up his role in Trump's Cabinet to mount a run.

The former Wichita congressman isn't the only Trump administration official being mentioned as a potential candidate. Federal Communications chair Ajit Pai, who grew up in Parsons, Kan., could also pursue the seat.

Wichita native and American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp said that he would decide on whether to run for the seat after his organization hosts next month's Conservative Political Action Conference, regarded as the Washington area's most influential conservative gathering.

A Senate bid is "something that my family, that my wife, has been urging me to consider for years," said Schlapp, whose wife, Mercedes Schlapp, is White House director of strategic communications.

Schlapp said if he does run he would welcome Trump's support, but he wouldn't count on it as guaranteed.

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"People who try to force the president's hand learn quickly that's a bad strategy," he said.

Pompeo would be a huge favorite if he entered the race, but sources close to the secretary of state have emphasized to McClatchy that he remains focused on his current role as the nation's top diplomat.

If Pompeo doesn't run, there are other potential candidates with links to Trump. Kansas Chamber of Commerce President Alan Cobb is weighing a run and served as an adviser on Trump's 2016 campaign.

Trump got involved in Kansas GOP politics last year, with disastrous results for the party.

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