The race for the U.S. Senate seat from Kansas took another substantial turn over the weekend with Rep. Roger Marshall announcing a campaign.

He immediately becomes a leader in the race.

He’s Manhattan’s representative in the U.S. House, since we’re in the First Congressional District along with all of western Kansas. Rep. Marshall, who’s from Great Bend, took over that seat from Tim Huelskamp after defeating him in the Republican primary.

Rep. Marshall, to his credit, has struck a far more pragmatic, conciliatory tone in the office than did Mr. Huelskamp. He is nonetheless a strong backer of President Trump, and he’s stressing his conservative credentials as he gears up for a primary fight for the Senate seat. His opponents in that race include State Sen. Susan Wagle; Dave Lindstrom, a Kansas City businessman; and Bryan Pruitt, a conservative commentator who recently moved to Manhattan.

The biggest name to surface as a potential Republican contender is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but thus far he’s deflecting questions about it. He told The Mercury last week in a visit here that he was still focused on his current job and that “as long as President Trump wants me to be secretary of state, I intend to keep doing that.” (Which of course also means that if President Trump really wants him to run for the Senate, he’ll do that instead.)

Assuming Mr. Pompeo stays out, Rep. Marshall is the biggest name in the race. And as the Republican front-runner, you’d have to assume he’s got the best shot at winning. Republicans hold a 2-1 registration advantage in Kansas. Previous holders of the First District House seat include Bob Dole, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, all of whom then won election to the Senate.

Democrats in the race include Manhattan City Commissioner Usha Reddi, as well as former U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda and former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom.

A lot of things can happen between now and next November, but any of those Democrats would have an uphill battle after the primary.

Regardless of how the primary turns out, there are related matters worth thinking about: Rep. Marshall’s announcement also means there’s a seat open in Congress — the one representing Manhattan. Former Lt. Gov. Tracy Mann, who was once a student body president at K-State, has announced his candidacy. Plenty of others are looking at it.

Recommended for you