Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoRepublican lawmakers raise security, privacy concerns over Huawei cloud services WashPost fact-checker gives Pompeo four 'Pinocchios' for 'zombie' claim about Obama Iran deal Poll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability MORE and Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsBob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain 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.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money — Democrats rush to finish off infrastructure Biden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions GOP senators say Biden COVID-19 strategy has 'exacerbated vaccine hesitancy' 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 TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE named Pompeo secretary of State last year after firing his former top diplomat, Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Trump-era ban on travel to North Korea extended Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump 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.