Though the 2018 midterm elections are only two months behind us, plans are already being made for 2020.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) just announced his decision to not run for re-election in 2020, a decision that opens up his eventually vacant seat to a number of Republican candidates who will battle it out over the next two years.
“Will not be a candidate”
During a press conference in Manhattan, Kansas, on Friday, the 82-year-old Roberts declared, “I will serve the remainder of this term as your senator, fighting for Kansas in these troubled times. However, I will not be a candidate in 2020 for a fifth Senate term.”
“I have had the honor and privilege of representing Kansas for 16 years in the House, 22 years so far in the Senate,” he added. “Never, never in my wildest dreams, did I think I would become the longest-serving member of Congress in our state’s history.”
JUST IN: GOP Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas announces he won’t seek reelection in 2020.
“Never, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become the longest-serving member of Congress in our state’s history” pic.twitter.com/soZ1BPpLbD
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) January 4, 2019
Vulnerable to a primary challenge
Breitbart noted that Roberts just achieved a significant legislative win in recent weeks with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill along bipartisan lines.
While Roberts’ shepherding of the bill through the lawmaking process was deemed a bipartisan success, some conservative critics suggested it was too bipartisan in nature, with too many giveaways for Democrats and too few conservative reforms to governmental programs.
It was also noted that, though nobody had yet emerged as a primary challenger to Roberts, there were growing rumblings that he would be exceptionally vulnerable. That quite possibly played a role in his retirement decision, given the fact that he barely survived a primary challenge from a tea party candidate in 2014.
State ready for new representation
Roberts may have read the writing on the wall, or more likely, the writing in the op-ed pages of The Kansas City Star, which recently urged Roberts to retire and make room for new and younger representation to step forward on behalf of the state of Kansas. “It’s time for Roberts to step aside to allow other qualified candidates to seek the office,” wrote the Star’s editorial board.
While granting that Roberts had done an “effective job,” the paper suggested he was too focused on agricultural issues and wedded to the old ways of doing things in Washington D.C. The board wrote, “But the 21st century will demand fresher ideas — not just on farm policy, but on trade, immigration, taxation, spending, defense and other national challenges. Roberts isn’t the senator who will provide those new ideas.”
“This isn’t a matter of the senator’s age, although Roberts will be 84 years old in 2020. It’s much more about Roberts’ four decades of service in the House and Senate, a long tenure that makes it difficult for him to see things in a different way,” surmised the editorial board.
After noting that Roberts’ friend and fellow Senate colleague from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, had also announced he wouldn’t be running in 2020 — as he’d “had my turn” — the board wrote, “Sen. Pat Roberts has had his turn, too. It’s time to give other candidates a chance to earn the seat, which belongs to the people, and no one person.”
Sen. Roberts has been serving the state of Kansas in Congress since 1980, and has held his senate seat since 1997.