Good news for Kansas Democrats: Grissom does the right thing and quits Senate race

Barry Grissom’s decision to end his campaign for the open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas is shocking — and welcome.

Grissom, considered a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, said Thursday he was ending his effort.

“I know a drawn-out primary would be unquestionably harmful and set us all back in this fight,” he said in a notice posted on his campaign website. “After long consideration, I’ve come to believe the most important thing I can do to help us win this race is to step aside.”

It’s the right choice. Any Democrat running for statewide office in Kansas must run a perfect campaign, and be an almost-perfect candidate, to prevail. Grissom’s well-publicized problems as a former U.S. attorney in Kansas would have been a serious distraction for him, and for voters.

He had more than $366,000 in his campaign bank account at the end of September. Now, some donors who want to see Kansas elect a Democrat can turn their attention to better choices.

On Thursday, Grissom endorsed state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a Republican-turned-Democrat who entered the Senate race earlier this week.

“State Senator Bollier has always had the courage to put politics aside in order to do the right thing, and she was instrumental in helping stop the Brownback cuts to schools, roads and public safety,” Grissom’s statement said.

In her initial campaign announcement, Bollier says she is running as a “voice of reason” in the nation’s capital.

Bollier’s record will be examined in detail in the weeks ahead. She is a more-than-credible candidate, but she is not well-known outside of the Kansas City region. For now, she will face Manhattan city councilwoman Usha Reddi, another highly credible candidate, in the August primary next year.

Several lesser-known Democrats have filed papers to run. We’re confident Democrats will have good choices in the race to replace Sen. Pat Roberts.

The Republican field is coming into view as well. The apparent front-runner today is Rep. Roger Marshall, who has almost $2 million available for a campaign. Marshall is well known in western Kansas.

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle is also a credible candidate, as is David Lindstrom, a Johnson County businessman. While Kris Kobach is the best-known candidate in the field, he’s also the most notorious GOP contender, and he has raised a relatively small amount of money for his campaign this year.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also under pressure to run, pressure that could grow now that Grissom has left the race. He would be a formidable candidate, although his reputation continues to suffer each day that he serves the White House.

If Pompeo wants to run, time is running out for him to say so. Kansans are moving on to other candidates, as they should.

Those options no longer include Barry Grissom. Kansans should wish him well in future endeavors and congratulate him on making the right choice.

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