Signs point to a crowded field of Republicans interested in replacing U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, who won’t seek re-election in 2020.

Jake LaTurner, the first GOP hopeful to make it official, shared his plan to run less than a week after Roberts, a four-term incumbent, said he'd retire.

Elected in November to the office of state treasurer, LaTurner has yet to take the oath of office. Yet he’s already launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate.

He served one term in the Kansas Senate before being appointed state treasurer in 2017 by then-Gov. Sam Brownback, a fellow ultraconservative. Critics of LaTurner’s recent run for state treasurer doubted his interest in serving a full term, and sure enough, he’s already looking to move on.

While he’s not alone in aspiring to climb the political ladder as quickly as possible — it happens in both parties — that doesn’t make such maneuvers more tolerable.

LaTurner, after all, just asked the people of Kansas to entrust him with the office of state treasurer, which he now hopes to abandon in favor of a greater political opportunity.

His recent announcement gave Kansans cause to wonder whether he had any interest in continuing as state treasurer or only used last year’s race to build more name recognition and better position himself to run for U.S. Senate.

He'll now focus more on the race than duties of his office. The likelihood of multiple opponents in the 2020 Republican primary means anyone determined to win the U.S. Senate seat must devote as much time as possible to their campaign. Outgoing Gov. Jeff Colyer, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, outgoing Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle and 1st congressional district Rep. Roger Marshall are among possible GOP candidates.

Now 30, LaTurner cited his age as an advantage in representing a new generation of conservative leaders in the U.S. Senate. He also could become yet another career politician in a state where Republicans can enjoy long runs in Congress once elected. Roberts, 82, has logged 38 years in the nation’s capital, with two more to go.

Every candidate who wants to follow Roberts will have time to make their case. As for LaTurner, he wasted no time in giving voters much to consider.

 

GateHouse Kansas