“I’m Roger Marshall and I’m running for United States Senate,” the 1st District Republican Congressman from Great Bend announced Saturday morning at the Kansas State Fair.
Marshall joins a number of Republicans and Democrats jockeying to win their respective party’s nomination in the August 2020 primary and prevail in the general election and take the seat held by the retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas.
“I’m running to protect our way of life in Kansas, our values, our jobs, our children, our farms, our ranches and our dairies,” said Marshall.
He mentioned no other Republican contender in the Senate race in his announcement but made frequent references to the “socialist” agenda of Democrats. He said he would not let them destroy Medicare or ruin the oil and gas industry with the Green New Deal.
He said later he has a voting record that aligns 98 percent with President Trump, splitting on budget issues. No one is more conservative on social issues, Marshall said of his views.
He does not anticipate U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will enter the GOP primary race — and it’s “full-speed ahead” for the Marshall Senate campaign, he said. Recently, State Treasurer Jake LaTurner dropped out of the Senate GOP contest and declared he will run for the 2nd District Congressional seat.
Marshall indicated only two Republicans are polling above 2% or 3% right now in the Senate race — himself and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who lost the gubernatorial race in November 2018 to Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat.
In a 10-minute address delivered in a grassy area north of the House of Capper on the State Fairgrounds, Marshall gave a snapshot of his stands. He opposes abortion, favors a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and a comprehensive overhaul of immigration policies, supports 2nd Amendment rights and wants to improve access to health care, but not a government takeover of the system.
Repeatedly, he referenced Kansas’ farmers and ranchers.
Roberts is chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and Marshall, sitting on the House Agriculture Committee, said he would try to win an appointment to that Senate panel so he could carry on Roberts’ tradition of being "a strong voice for Kansas agriculture."
Since 1948, Marshall said, every Senator from Kansas has had a link to the 1st District. Both Roberts and the state’s other member in the Senate, Jerry Moran, were Congressmen from the 1st District before running for the Senate.
Marshall considers that tradition and the fact that 40% of the Kansas Republicans voting in the primary live in the 1st District give his candidacy a boost.
Marshall was a doctor delivering babies in Great Bend before he defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp in the 1st District’s primary in 2016. He said he wasn’t well known outside that area when he launched the campaign. Now he is taking the same approach to introduce himself in counties outside the 1st District, he said. Sometimes he meets with five or six people, other times he speaks to 50 or 60 people, he said.
“We have tried to plant a flag in every county,” he said. “There’s a group in every county that do know us,” he said.
Starting Tuesday morning after Labor Day, Marshall barnstormed eastern and southeast Kansas, beginning in Abilene and covering cities from Baxter Springs to Pittsburg to Wellington and more. He stopped at a sale barn, senior citizen residential centers and schools.
Marshall and his wife, Laina Marshall, have four children and two grandchildren. Marshall’s parents were among family members present for the announcement.
Marshall said he was a fifth-generation farm kid who has “lived the American dream.” He said he thinks his real-life experiences will set him apart from the other candidates. He served in the military and has a farm background, he said.
“I’m not a politician. I’m a Kansan. I'm a pragmatic Kansan who's going to fight for Kansans. I’m going to stand beside the President,” Marshall said.
Marshall thinks he’s the Republican who can win the primary and the general election. In addition to Kobach, other Republicans vying for the Senate include Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, former Kansas City Chiefs player and businessman David Lindstrom and conservative commenter Bryan Pruitt.
Democrats running in that primary include former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, former U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda and Manhattan City Commission member Usha Reddi.
As of the end of June, Marshall’s House campaign account held more than $1.4 million. It can be used for the Senate campaign. A Marshall staff adviser, Eric Pahls, has been named campaign manager. The initial campaign headquarters is in Salina.
Roberts, recovering from surgery, will not be attending this year’s State Fair, according to the staff at Roberts’ booth on the fairgrounds. Marshall said he and Roberts talk fairly often but they seldom talk about this race.