Sen. Pat Roberts announced Friday that he will not seek re-election for his senate seat in 2020 while fulfilling the remainder of his term.
Roberts, now in his fourth term, was elected to his current office in 1996. Before that, Roberts spent 16 years representing the 1st Congressional District of Kansas, the office that fellow Republican Roger Marshall now holds. Roberts owns homes in Topeka and Garden City, Kansas.
Roberts is a Kansas State alumnus; according to his senatorial website, Roberts graduated from K-State with a degree in journalism in 1958. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years, Roberts worked at some Arizona newspapers, eventually stepping into politics in 1967 as a staff member for former Kansas Sen. Frank Carlson.
Pat Roberts Hall bears his name and is home to the Biosecurity Research Institute. As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Roberts also was instrumental in placing the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility in Manhattan, which will “generate an economic return of $3.5 billion in its first 20 years.”
Roberts also gave a Landon Lecture at the university in 2004.
The retirement announcement comes one day after the 116th Congress convened for the first time with a new Democratic majority in House of Representatives. The New York Times reports the Senate’s first day was more “subdued” compared to the House, as the Senate gained just 10 freshmen and the chamber maintains its Republican majority.
As far as who will succeed Roberts as Kansas’ next senator, Politico reports that Rep. Marshall may have his eye on the office.
“Since the moment speculation of Senator Roberts’ retirement began, Dr. Marshall’s phone has been ringing,” Brent Robertson, Marshall’s chief of staff, said in a statement. “It’s safe to say that while Dr. Marshall is seriously considering it, he is dead set on making sure we get border security funding to the President’s desk first. Until then, I don’t anticipate any type decision on a Senate run taking priority.”
Other potential candidates for Roberts’ senate spot include former Rep. Kevin Yoder, former Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former governor Jeff Colyer, all Republicans who sought and lost election or re-election in the 2018 election cycle.