10 and counting: Guide to the candidates competing for U.S. Sen. Roberts’ job

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is not looking for another term in Washington. Plenty of people are lining up in hopes they’ll take over. (Photo by Nomin Ujiyediin, Kansas News Service)

by Stephen Koranda, Kansas News Service

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts says he will not run for re-election in 2020, opening the door to a parade of candidates announcing a run or considering jumping into the race to replace him. Multiple Republicans are eyeing the seat, and it could be the first time Democrats have a competitive U.S. Senate primary since the 1990s.

Here’s the rundown of who’s seeking the seat in Washington:


Kris Kobach (Photo by Stephen Koranda, Kansas News Service)

Kris Kobach
Residence: Near Lecompton, Kansas.
Nationally, Kobach is known as a hardliner against illegal immigration. But in Kansas, he’s coming off a 2018 loss for the governor’s office. When he was secretary of state from 2011 to 2019, he pushed for strict voter registration changes, arguing they would help prevent voter fraud. Critics said the rules made it too difficult for eligible voters to register and the requirements were blocked by a federal court. Kobach is a long-time ally of President Donald Trump, and he says he’ll push Trump’s policies and fight what he calls the establishment in Washington. He’s currently working with a private organization attempting to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Dave Lindstrom (Photo from Dave Lindstrom for Senate Facebook page)

Dave Lindstrom
Residence: Overland Park, Kansas.
Lindstrom is a former Kansas City Chief turned businessman who’s chairman of the board for the Kansas Turnpike Authority. After his NFL career, Lindstrom owned four Burger King restaurants in the Kansas City area and worked in real estate. Like other Republicans in the race, Lindstrom is voicing his support for Trump and says he’ll bring free-market ideas and a conservative perspective to the Senate.

Bryan Pruitt (Photo from Pruitt for Kansas)

Bryan Pruitt
Residence: Manhattan, Kansas.
Pruitt is a Wichita native who worked as a conservative political commentator and political consultant based in Washington, D.C. He has now returned to Kansas for the campaign. If elected, he would be the first openly gay senator from Kansas. Pruitt agrees with other conservatives in the race on major issues, but says the party needs to talk differently about abortion and should nominate more diverse candidates.

Susan Wagle (Photo by Stephen Koranda, Kansas News Service)

Susan Wagle
Residence: Wichita, Kansas.
Wagle is the first woman to become president of the Kansas Senate (2013-current). A conservative who has been a vocal critic of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, Wagle and Kelly have clashed on issues like Medicaid expansion and tax policy. Wagle touts her years of work in support of abortion restrictions approved by Kansas lawmakers. She’ll continue serving as Senate president while campaigning for the U.S. Senate. Wagle is a cancer survivor, and counts health care issues among her top priorities, saying government health care isn’t the answer to challenges in the industry.

Filed paperwork to run or explore the race:
Gabriel Mark Robles, from Topeka, Kansas.


Nancy Boyda (Photo from Nancy Boyda for Senate Facebook page)

Nancy Boyda
Residence: Baldwin City, Kansas
Boyda spent one term as a U.S. representative for the 2nd District, ending in 2009. Though she ended up in Washington after defeating an incumbent Republican, she lost the 2008 election to Republican Lynn Jenkins. Boyda is a farmer who says she’ll focus on working across the aisle to break gridlock.

Barry Grissom (Photo from Barry Grissom’s campaign)

Barry Grissom

Residence: Leawood, Kansas.
In 2010, President Barack Obama picked Grissom to serve as U.S. attorney for Kansas. Grissom highlights his experience, as well as prosecutions of people who plotted to bomb the Wichita airport and Fort Riley. As an attorney, Grissom says he has fought against racism and unfair wages. He’s also campaigned for loosening laws on marijuana, saying it’s not a good use of taxpayer resources.

Usha Reddi (Photo from Reddi for Senate Facebook page)

Usha Reddi
Residence: Manhattan, Kansas.
Reddi serves on the Manhattan city council and was an elementary-school teacher before taking a leave to campaign for the Senate. Reddi says she’ll push for economic policies that benefit working Kansas families. She’s a sexual abuse survivor who went public with her account because she says she’s met many women with similar experiences. If elected, Reddi would be the first Hindu person to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Other Democrats who have filed paperwork to run or explore the race:

Adam Smith, from Mission, Kansas, https://www.fec.gov/data/candidate/S0KS00216/?tab=filings.

Robert Leon Tillman, from Wichita, Kansas, https://www.fec.gov/data/candidate/S0KS00265/?tab=filings

Editor’s note: This story will be updated as new people enter the race or, as in the case of Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner on Sept. 4, drop out of the race.
Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda or email skoranda (at) ku (dot) edu.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

See more at https://www.kcur.org/post/10-and-counting-your-guide-candidates-competing-kansas-us-sen-pat-roberts-job .

Kansas Treasurer LaTurner ditching Senate race to challenge fellow Republican Watkins for U.S. House

Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner is leaving the U.S. Senate race to challenge the 2nd Congressional District incumbent Steve Watkins. (Photo by Jim McLean, Kansas News Service)

by Stephen Koranda, Kansas News Service

Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner is ending his campaign for the U.S. Senate and instead is launching a primary challenge against Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins.

First reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, LaTurner said he’s switching his efforts to run for the 2nd District, arguing that Watkins isn’t running a good campaign and it could cost the Republican Party the seat.

The announcement comes a week after former Gov. Jeff Colyer publicly urged LaTurner to challenge Watkins.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins, R-2nd Dist., will face a challenger in his 2020 re-election bid. (Photo by Brian Grimmett, Kansas News Service)

“Second District residents deserve a solid conservative fighter they can count on,” LaTurner said in a news release, adding later, “We must nominate a Republican that can win the general election and fight for our principles.”

Shortly after the news broke, Watkins’ campaign issued a news release, calling LaTurner a career politician who’s focused on climbing the political ladder.

“The contrast could not be more clear — a life of service versus a life of self-service,” Watkins spokesman Bryan Piligra said.

The most recent financial report showed LaTurner had almost $500,000 for his Senate campaign, which is about double what Watkins reported for his re-election bid.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda or email skoranda (at) ku (dot) edu.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

See more at https://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-treasurer-laturner-ditching-senate-race-challenge-fellow-republican-watkins-us-house

Colyer encourages LaTurner to drop out of Senate race and run for 2nd District House seat

Former Gov. Jeff Colyer said this week that he will not be running for U.S. Senate in 2020, but he is encouraging Jake LaTurner, state treasurer, to run for the 2nd Congressional District seat in 2020.

Colyer, an Overland Park physician, plans to be a fall 2019 Fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service in Washington, D.C., his alma mater, according to a news release. Colyer also is on call as a surgeon at hospitals in the Kansas City area and has several projects in the private sector.

“I appreciate all the encouragement I have received since Senator Roberts announced that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election in 2020. Right now I am doing some interesting things in private sector and in medicine.” Dr. Colyer said in a news release. He plans to continue his service to the state in the future, he added.

In a news release on Tuesday, Colyer called on LaTurner to end his campaign for the U.S. Senate and instead seek the nomination for the U.S. House, 2nd District – a district with a Republican incumbent. LaTurner is from southeast Kansas and is currently a resident of Topeka.

“The fact is we have too many candidates in the Senate race and a need for an improved candidate in the Second District. This would help our state in two ways—by giving us a viable conservative option in the Second District and helping to clear the logjam in the Senate race,” Colyer said in the news release.

The 2nd District currently is represented by Republican Steve Watkins, a conservative, who has not said that he is not running.

Colton Gibson, Colyer’s former special assistant, said that running for office in 2020 is out of the picture for the former governor, but 2022 is another story. Another U.S. Senate seat and the governor’s seat are up for election in 2022, and Colyer is looking at 2022, he said.

However, Colyer is not considering a run for the 3rd Congressional District, Gibson said. He has run for that office before, in 2002. Adam Taff won the Republican nomination that year by about 2,800 votes over Colyer, losing to incumbent Democrat Congressman Dennis Moore in the general election.

Colyer was lieutenant governor when former Gov. Sam Brownback stepped down to accept an appointment in 2018. Colyer lost the GOP governor primary to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach by 343 votes in a seven-candidate race. Kobach lost the general election to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

Kobach announced in July he would be a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in 2020, and arguably has the best name recognition of six Republicans who currently are being mentioned for the office. Susan Wagle, Kansas Senate president, is another well-known GOP candidate.

On the Democratic side, Barry Grissom, former U.S. attorney, and Nancy Boyda, former U.S. representative from the 2nd District, are among the candidates.