Pompeo tells McConnell he won't run for Senate, sources say

Many Republicans believed the secretary of state would have been the strongest candidate to win the Kansas seat being vacated by Pat Roberts.
Image: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo delivers remarks on human rights in Iran at the State Department in Washington
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on human rights in Iran at the State Department in Washington in December 2019.Erin Scott / Reuters file

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Josh Lederman

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday that he wouldn't be seeking a Senate seat, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

The meeting and the decision were first reported by The New York Times. Pompeo met with McConnell, R-Ky., in a classified room in the basement of the Capitol on Monday afternoon.

Pompeo's decision not to jump in the race for the Kansas contest is a blow to Senate Republicans who had thought he would be the strongest candidate to win the seat being vacated by Pat Roberts, a Republican who is retiring at the end of the year after four terms.

"Leader McConnell spoke with Secretary Pompeo this afternoon where he indicated he will not be running for Senate," a source close to McConnell said. "Leader McConnell believes Secretary Pompeo is doing an incredible job as secretary of state and is exactly where the country needs him to be right now."

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Last month, Pompeo told Fox News that he didn't want to run for the Senate — despite signs indicating otherwise.

"So Susan and I love Kansas," Pompeo said on "Fox and Friends," referring to his wife. "But it's my intention to stay here and continue to serve as President Trump's secretary of state. I've said that consistently. I intend to keep saying it, and as long as President Trump wants me to serve in this capacity, there's still work to do."

The State Department hasn't responded to requests for comment.

Some believed Pompeo, who represented a district around Wichita in the House from 2011 to 2017, was taking steps that hinted at a run. He made numerous trips to Kansas in the wake of Roberts' announcement and launched a personal Twitter account in December — separate from his State Department account — as well as an Instagram page.

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Roberts said last month that he'd spoken to numerous Republicans interested in running for his seat, including Pompeo.

"I think he showed a little leg, if you want to use that term," Roberts said.

Some Republicans believed Pompeo would be the best candidate to beat former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the primary. Kobach, who holds far-right views on such issues as immigration, is fresh off statewide defeat, having lost to Democrat Laura Kelly in the 2018 general election.

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall and state Sen. Susan Wagle are also running in the Republican primary.

Abigail Williams contributed.