Pompeo tells McConnell he's not running for Senate

Pompeo tells McConnell he's not running for Senate
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Overnight Defense: House Democrats unveil stopgap spending measure to GOP opposition | Bill includes .6B for new subs | Trump issues Iran sanctions after world shrugs at US action at UN Navalny calls on Russia to return clothes he was wearing when he fell ill MORE told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Senate GOP aims to confirm Trump court pick by Oct. 29: report Trump argues full Supreme Court needed to settle potential election disputes MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday he will not leave the Trump administration to run for an open Senate seat in Kansas.

Pompeo would have been almost certain to win the Republican primary for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Trump seeks to flip 'Rage' narrative; Dems block COVID-19 bill GOP senators say coronavirus deal dead until after election MORE (R-Kan.). He took steps toward running, lining up major donors and making his presence felt in Kansas even as he insisted his focus was on Foggy Bottom.

But his decision to skip the race crystalized in the days since an American airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Tensions between the United States and Iran are running at their highest levels in decades, and Pompeo decided he could not leave the administration at such a delicate moment.

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The New York Times first reported Pompeo's decision. Three Republican sources confirmed to The Hill he spoke with McConnell by phone Monday afternoon.

"Leader McConnell spoke with Secretary Pompeo this afternoon where he indicated he will not be running for Senate. Leader McConnell believes Secretary Pompeo is doing an incredible job as Secretary of State and is exactly where the country needs him to be right now," one source close to the Kentucky Republican told The Hill.

Pompeo's exit still leaves more than half a dozen Republicans vying for Roberts's seat. Kansas has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1932, the longest streak of complete Republican control in the nation.

That streak, Republicans fear, may be in jeopardy if former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach wins the nomination. Kobach, an archconservative who is close to President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE, lost a bid for governor in 2018, and Republicans fear he cannot win a statewide race.

Kobach's leading rivals include Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - VP nominee Harris, VP Pence crisscross Wisconsin today GOP uses debunked theory to downplay COVID-19 death toll Bank lobbying group launches ad backing Collins reelection bid MORE (R-Kan.); Dave Lindstrom, a former Johnson County commissioner; and state Senate President Susan Wagle (R). Wink Hartman, a wealthy businessman who served as Kobach's lieutenant governor running mate in 2018, is also considering a bid.

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Democrats have largely cleared the field for state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D), who left the Republican Party last year.

Candidates running for Roberts's seat have until June 1 to file papers, giving Pompeo or any other candidate plenty of time to reconsider.

Updated at 8:05 p.m. Justine Coleman contributed.