Wagle drops out of U.S. Senate race in Kansas

photo by: Associated Press

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, pauses while answering questions during a news conference outside the Senate chamber about Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's veto of a GOP coronavirus bill, Tuesday May 26, 2020, at the Statehouse in Topeka. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle said Thursday that she will not run for the U.S. Senate, citing “personal and political trials” in the last year for her decision.

Wagle announcement also indicated that she would not seek reelection to the Kansas Senate. The filing deadline is Monday.

The decision leaves U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall and former Secretary of State Kris Kobach as the primary candidates for the GOP nomination for the seat.

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Speculation that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a Kansas native, might join the U.S. Senate race hurt her efforts to raise campaign funds for most of last year, Wagle said, and her efforts to lead Republican opposition in the Kansas Senate to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s response to the coronavirus pandemic took her focus away from the election.

Wagle also said she needed to concentrate on family rather than politics following her daughter’s death in March from cancer.

Republican party leaders are concerned having several GOP candidates could split the vote and give Kobach the nomination. Conservative voters support Kobach but he is not as popular among general voters, and lost to Kelly in the 2018 governor’s race.

Wagle had discussed those concerns with GOP leaders and agreed that a divisive primary would benefit Democratic candidate Barbara Bollier.

“I know Barbara well, and I will not be part of a primary fight that will divide our party or hurts my colleagues in the state legislature,” Wagle said. “For these reasons I will not file to formally run for U.S. Senate.”

Wagle said this was not the end of her public life but that “until the next door opens” she would work to uphold GOP ideals during the Legislature’s upcoming special session and help elect strong conservatives.

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