Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation

Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Senate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions State Department's top arms control official leaving MORE and Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsInternal poll shows Kobach trailing Democrat in Kansas Senate race Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers ramp up Silicon Valley antitrust probe | Treasury sanctions North Korean cyber groups | Thiel to host Kobach fundraiser MORE (R-Kan.) are planning to meet amid speculation that the Trump administration’s top diplomat could run to replace the retiring senator, a spokesperson for Roberts said Friday.

Sarah Little, Roberts’s communications director, said that staff is working to arrange a meeting between Pompeo and the senator, but that the Kansas Republican is unaware of the secretary’s plans for 2020.

“Senator Roberts would be happy to meet with any Republican interested in running for the Senate from Kansas,” Little said in an email to The Hill.

The plans for a meeting come an increasingly aggressive effort by Senate Republicans to recruit Pompeo to run for Roberts’s seat in 2020.

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The Washington Post reported Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Liberal super PAC launches browser extension replacing 'Mitch McConnell' with 'Moscow Mitch' MORE (R-Ky.) has personally urged Pompeo to leave the State Department to run for the seat, even directly broaching the subject in a recent phone call.

A spokesperson for the State Department told The Hill that Pompeo is focused on his current job, but did not deny that the secretary could meet with Roberts.

“Secretary Pompeo is focused on serving the President and keeping Americans safe as the Secretary of State," said Robert Palladino, a deputy spokesperson for the State Department.

Before joining the Trump administration as CIA director in 2017, Pompeo, 55, served as a congressman from Kansas’s 4th District. President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE named Pompeo secretary of State last year after firing his former top diplomat, Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTillerson: Netanyahu 'played' Trump with misinformation Pompeo sees status grow with Bolton exit Trump blasts 'Mr. Tough Guy' Bolton: 'He made some very big mistakes' MORE.

Roberts, who’s currently in his fourth term in the Senate, announced earlier this month that he would not seek reelection in 2020. Since then, Republican leaders have eyed Pompeo as a top choice to succeed the 82-year-old Roberts.

Democrats, fresh off a wave election in November that handed them control of the House, are hoping to regain a majority in the Senate in 2020, when nearly two dozen Republican incumbents will face reelection.

But winning Kansas is not likely to be easy for Democrats. The state has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1932. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, currently puts the 2020 Senate race in the state in the “likely Republican” column.

-- Updated at 3:12 p.m.