Money flows to Kansas Senate campaign with Pompeo out of the race

GOP Rep. Roger Marshall collects $250,000 in three days

Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall is vying for front-liner status in the Republican primary for Senate after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bowed out. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall is vying for front-liner status in the Republican primary for Senate after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bowed out. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted January 10, 2020 at 1:39pm

Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall on Friday reported a surge of money into his campaign for Senate in the three days since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would not enter the race. 

The $250,000 the Marshall campaign said it raised since Pompeo made his decision Tuesday is more than two of his top challengers for the Republican nomination — former Kansas City Chiefs defensive end David Lindstrom and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — raised in the third quarter, which ended in September. Disclosures for fourth-quarter activity are due Jan. 31. 

“I am honored by the support and momentum we’ve gained this week,” Marshall said in a statement. “We’re ready to keep this seat red. Game on.”

Lindstrom, Kobach and state Senate President Susan Wagle, another leading Republican contender, have not released data from the same three-day period. But Lindstrom’s campaign manager, Karl Hansen, said fundraising had picked up.

“Some folks who were sitting on the sidelines are definitely starting to engage now that the Pompeo question has been eliminated,” he said. 

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Marshall’s disclosure, through a campaign press release, provides the first clue to how the race for the GOP nomination could shake out now that Pompeo has taken himself out of consideration,  potentially attracting a flood of money from national Republicans worried that the remaining candidates will not be able to keep the seat of retiring Sen. Pat Roberts in GOP hands.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales changed its rating of the race this week from Solid Republican to Leans Republican

Pompeo, who won four terms in the House before joining the Trump administration, had been seen as the GOP’s best hope of holding the seat and was courted for months by national Republicans. His recent meetings with potential donors fueled speculation that he was about to launch a bid — and made it difficult for other candidates to raise money. 

Marshall, currently in his second term representing the state’s 1st District, has so far led the field in fundraising. He entered the race with more than $1 million on hand from his House campaign and ended the third quarter with $1.9 million in the bank, compared to $494,000 for Wagle, $240,000 for Lindstrom and $198,000 for Kobach. 

But it is unclear how the field will shift in the coming months. National Republicans have made no secret of their dislike of Kobach, a polarizing figure who they fear could win the primary but would be unable to attract enough moderate voters to win the general. Kobach was the GOP nominee for governor in 2018 but lost the election to moderate Democrat Laura Kelly by 5 points. 

Kobach told CQ Roll Call that such assessments failed to take into account the different dynamics at play in a Senate race, when voters are typically more concerned about the national issues. The former secretary of state has built a national brand in recent years with hard-line positions on immigration and voter fraud that made him an ally of President Donald Trump. 

“All too often, the Washington Republican organizations try to micromanage, and they often get it wrong,” Kobach said. “It is a little bit presumptuous for Washington establishment leaders to declare to Kansas voters who should represent the Kansas Republican Party.”

Kobach said he was not concerned about Marshall’s fundraising advantage, pointing out that he had won campaigns against better-funded opponents before. 

Wagle’s campaign could not be reached for comment.

Republican strategists have raised concerns about Marshall’s conservative bona fides and his ability to match Kobach’s star power. On his way to winning his first term in the House in 2016, Marshall unseated tea party hard-liner Tim Huelskamp in a GOP primary. 

The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, is “monitoring” the race but has not made any determination beyond declaring that Kobach should not be the nominee, spokesman Jack Pandol said.

“Nothing is off the table but also no decisions have been made about whether or how we get involved,” he added. 

The Democrats’ likely nominee, state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former Republican, announced this week that she had raised $1.1 million in the last three months of the year.