Washington With the 2008 election season over, Rep. Jerry Moran wasted little time taking the next step in his likely bid for higher office.
The western Kansas Republican filed paperwork Friday that allows him to accept contributions for a U.S. Senate campaign.
Moran, of Hays, has been telling constituents for months that he plans to seek the seat being vacated in 2010 by Republican Sam Brownback. His statement of candidacy filed with the Federal Election Commission and the secretary of the U.S. Senate formalizes that process.
"Jerry was on the ballot for the U.S. House for the last time," Moran spokesman Travis Murphy said Friday. "He's made his intentions known for some time that this was his plan."
Murphy said the filings are part of the process of making Moran's intentions clear "and allowing him to follow the rules."
Moran already has amassed about $2.4 million in his House campaign coffers that could be transferred to a Senate bid.
Moran was re-elected to a seventh House term on Tuesday with 82 percent of the vote, the highest percentage of any Republican in the nation running for Congress. But he has been working in recent months to increase his name recognition in eastern Kansas.
Moran may not be the only prominent Republican laying the groundwork for a Senate bid. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, of the Wichita area, has not ruled out such a campaign and has been traveling the state recently to raise his profile outside his south-central Kansas district.
"An open Senate seat will draw a lot of interest, and my feeling is Kansas will not have two senators from the same congressional district," Tiahrt said Friday, a reference to Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, who also represented western Kansas before ascending to the Senate. "I can guarantee there will be others who will get into this race."
But Tiahrt also said it was too early to talk about the next election cycle.
"Like other Kansans, talk of another political campaign makes me groan right now," Tiahrt said.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is a possible Democratic contender, but she is widely expected to take a position in Barack Obama's administration should an offer be extended.