The Buzz

Analysis: What’s Mike Pompeo up to?

So is Mike Pompeo for real?

The Wichita congressman, a Republican, is suddenly refusing to rule out a late bid for the U.S. Senate this year.

“I can’t say much about whether or not I’m going to run for any particular office,” Pompeo said.

If he decides to go, he’d become embroiled in an intense primary campaign against the incumbent, Jerry Moran.

But what a minute. This is April. The primary election is Aug. 2, fewer than four months from now.

Isn’t that too late to mount a competitive race against a sitting United States senator?

Answer: Yes, it is.

Who knows what lurks in Mike Pompeo’s heart? We suspect that he has statewide ambitions. We also might wager that he’s peeved at Moran, as so many conservatives are these days, over Moran’s apparent endorsement of Senate hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Moran has since backed away from that stand.

Pompeo would need a lot of money to beat a sitting incumbent, though he did report $1.1 million in the bank at year’s end. (Moran had $3.1 million).

Pompeo of Wichita also would need time to line up endorsements and get better known in the three-quarters of the state that hardly knows him. That would take longer than four months.

Might he go for broke? Sure.

But he would be a big underdog. Remember, his congressional predecessor, Todd Tiahrt, lost to Moran in the brutal 2010 GOP Senate primary. Pompeo would face the prospect of seeing his political career come to an abrupt end.

A better guess? Pompeo is laying down a marker that states in big, bold capital letters that he has statewide ambition, and he’s unafraid to take on anybody.

In a state jam-packed with Republicans eager to ascend the political ladder (think the governor’s office in 2018 or Pat Roberts’ U.S. Senate seat in 2020), that’s a message worth noting and a wise one for Pompeo to send now.