Jenkins eyeing Kansas governor’s race

A member of Speaker Paul Ryan’s (Wis.) GOP leadership team is eyeing a possible bid for governor in Kansas, lawmakers said.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, hasn’t made any final decisions yet but for months has been considering jumping into the 2018 race to replace term-limited GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.

{mosads}“Everybody is talking about that,” GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo, who serves with Jenkins in the Kansas delegation, told The Hill. “She’s been at this awhile. She ran statewide a couple times. She’s a good friend and a remarkable leader.”

Jenkins spokesman Jeffrey Levicki declined to comment on whether his boss was planning a run for the governor’s office. Jenkins, he said, is completely focused on Tuesday’s general election, though she’s expected to cruise to her fifth House term.

“Congresswoman Jenkins is focused on the 2016 campaign and preserving a strong Republican majority in the House,” Levicki said.

If she does decide to run, Jenkins is not expected to seek reelection to her House leadership post. That decision could happen soon after Tuesday’s elections, since House Republicans are slated to return to Washington and hold internal leadership elections for all positions the following week, on Nov. 15.

GOP conference secretary Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) also may not seek reelection to her leadership job, since she’s in line to become chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee. It’s unclear at this point who might replace Jenkins and Foxx, but their departure would leave conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) as the sole woman on Ryan’s leadership team.

“Foxx is likely to be Education chair. And word is Jenkins is looking at the race for governor. I’m told that she is not running for vice chair,” one leadership source told the Hill. Jenkins “would be strong candidate for governor as a former statewide elected official and state legislator.”

Before she was elected to Congress in 2008, Jenkins, a certified public accountant, had served as the Kansas state treasurer for five years and in both chambers of the state legislature.

A Jenkins gubernatorial bid would throw her into what’s expected to be a crowded GOP field to replace Brownback, who’s been besieged by state budget problems.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who’s developed a national profile as an anti-immigration hard-liner, is expected to enter the race; another Republican, state Attorney General Derek Schmidt, could also throw his hat in as well.

Pompeo, who flirted with bids for House Speaker and the Senate, also has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate.

Asked if he was eyeing a run for higher office, Pompeo replied: “Not today. I haven’t spent much time thinking past Nov. 8 and thinking of how we can make our Congress be more effective.”

Jenkins, who is well-liked and well-respected by her colleagues, is a conservative, though not a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. GOP primary rivals likely would attack her for serving on both Ryan and former Speaker John Boehner’s (Ohio) leadership teams and go after her record in Topeka.

“She had a liberal voting record in the state Senate. She had a number of bad votes on pro-life and Second Amendment issues. She hung out with the moderate crowd in the state Capitol,” said fellow Kansas GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who also served with Jenkins in the state legislature. Huelskamp, a Tea Party favorite, lost his primary race this summer.

“She’s had a much better conservative record in Washington, but I don’t know how you’re going to run on that when it’s a crowded GOP field.”

Tags Boehner Cathy McMorris Rodgers John Boehner Kansas Paul Ryan Virginia Foxx
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