Kansas GOP senator Pat Roberts considering retirement in 2020

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsEPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste EPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste Conservatives spark threat of bloody GOP primaries MORE (R-Kan.) will spend the holidays deciding whether he’ll run for a fifth term in 2020, though he is committed to serving out his current term.

Roberts's office confirmed to The Hill comments made by the senior senator in an interview with Politico on Thursday, when he said he was contemplating retirement and would make a decision by early next year.

Roberts, who’s been serving in Congress since the 1980s, would be 84 by the November 2020 election.

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The senator’s comments to Politico come on the heels of a Wednesday editorial from The Kansas City Star urging Roberts to retire and “step aside to allow other qualified candidates to seek the office.”

"We're going to think long and hard about it and then we'll make a decision very quickly," Roberts said in the interview with Politico.

"I think it's incumbent on people, if they're going to not run, to certainly indicate that [early] because it's a very competitive situation.”

Roberts was first elected to the Senate in 1996. Prior to his Senate tenure, he served Kansas’s 1st District in the House from 1981 to 1997.

Roberts faced a tough GOP primary in 2014 against Republican physician Milton Wolf, who snagged endorsements from Tea Party groups.

He ultimately won reelection by a double-digit margin against independent Greg Orman. In the Politico interview, Roberts dismissed concerns about drawing challengers if he mounts another bid.

"When people consider running and they ask me about it I say, jump in, the water's fine," Roberts told Politico. "I'm 24-0 in terms of times I've had somebody on the ballot in opposition to me. Sometimes they have been lesser candidates but 24-0 is a pretty good record."

Republicans are highly favored to hold onto the Kansas Senate seat and haven’t elected a Democrat in several decades.

But state Sen. Laura Kelly (D) narrowly defeated Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) in the nationally watched governor’s race this November.

Former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom told McClatchy he’s been considering a run for the Democratic nomination for about a year.

With the 2020 cycle approaching, speculation is already swirling over which lawmakers will call it quits. Republicans will be fighting to protect their Senate majority, which will expand by two seats to 53-47 on Jan. 3.

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderTaylor Swift thanks Cory Booker for signing Equality Act petition Taylor Swift thanks Cory Booker for signing Equality Act petition Senate health panel to move forward on package to lower health costs next week MORE (R-Tenn.) announced earlier this week that he won’t seek reelection in 2020.