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Here’s what the election may mean for Kansans who have been in the Trump administration

Andrew Bahl
abahl@gannett.com
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets the media in Rome during a 2019 visit. There has been widespread speculation over his political future in recent weeks.

With President-elect Joe Biden projected to win the White House, speculation has been fierce about the future for President Donald Trump and members of his administration.

Trump has refused to concede the election as the final votes are being tabulated nationwide and the president has claimed, without evidence, that a rash of voter fraud cost him victory.

But the arrival of a new administration means a number of Kansans who have found themselves in Trump’s orbit will be affected. Here is what the election might mean for a number of those high-profile individuals.

Mike Pompeo

Far and away the most prominent Kansan in the Trump administration, Pompeo was appointed secretary of state in 2018 after 15 months in office as director of the CIA.

Pompeo won’t remain in office as the country’s top diplomatic official. But speculation is rampant about his next move, which could involve returning to Kansas to run for governor in 2022 or even mounting a campaign for the White House in 2024.

Despite public pleas from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Pompeo declined to step down in order to run to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall won the race to replace Roberts instead, even though Trump reportedly also urged Pompeo to leave office to run.

It has been long rumored that Pompeo instead might weigh a run against Gov. Laura Kelly in 2022, although publicly he has been mum on the notion of returning to Kansas, where he formerly represented the 4th Congressional District.

"I love Kansas. It's home for Susan (Pompeo’s wife) and me for sure," he told a local radio station during a visit to Kansas last year.

But there is also increasing speculation that Pompeo will attempt to engineer a presidential bid in 2024, especially if Trump himself decides against another run at the White House.

Politico reported last year that Pompeo had privately floated such a move and the New York Times followed up earlier this year with a story outlining how Pompeo had met with top Republican donors while on multiple government trips.

Pompeo won’t be the only Midwest Republican looking to take up Trump’s mantle, with Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse and, of course, Vice President Mike Pence all potential 2024 candidates.

Kris Kobach

While Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, is no longer in Trump’s orbit, his effect is still being felt as Trump argues, without evidence, that voter fraud was rampant in a series of key swing states.

Kobach led the brief Trump effort to probe purported fraud in the 2016 election, with the panel disbanded only months after beginning work when states refused to cooperate with its mandate.

In 2018, Kobach failed to present evidence of widespread voter fraud in a lawsuit over a Kansas law which required those registering to vote present proof of citizenship. The law was later struck down, although in June the matter was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

More recently, Kobach has remained quiet since losing the U.S. Senate primary in August.

Since then he has periodically extolled Trump’s virtues on social media, as well as fanning fears over voting by mail. In one post, for instance, Kobach said homeowners could return ballots mailed in error to former residents, although there is no evidence of this happening.

In recent weeks, Kobach has been consulting with a Wichita-based firm that is peddling COVID-19 sanitizing systems to state and local governments.

“A lot of state and local governments are receiving these pots of money, and they’re not sure what to do with it,” Kobach told legislators in September, referring to the CARES Act money. “This product they developed in Wichita is right on point.”

Brad Pascale

Pascale was demoted from his role as Trump’s campaign manager after a July rally in Tulsa, Okla., drew fewer attendees than initially promised. Reports also noted increasingly frayed tensions with members of the Trump family over the direction of the campaign.

At the time, it was reported Parscale would continue to oversee digital and data strategies and serve as a senior adviser.

But Parscale went on leave in September after being hospitalized in Florida after threatening to harm himself.

His wife, Candace, called Fort Lauderdale police to report he had access to multiple weapons and had been drinking. An officer later reported bruising on Candace Parscale’s arms and legs from a previous physical altercation with her husband.

For now, Bloomberg News is reporting that Parscale is seeking a book deal, with negotiations with a publisher ongoing and a potential seven-figure deal on the table.

Ajit Pai

It isn’t clear what the immediate next step is for Pai, a Parsons native and head of the Federal Communications Commission. He, however, won’t continue in his current job as Biden likely will want to replace him with a friendlier appointee.

Pai has been an outspoken advocate for less regulation in the telecommunications sector, most notably arguing that it isn’t the FCC’s role to determine net neutrality.

It was rumored in 2019 that Pai would enter the race to replace Roberts in the Senate. He quickly shot down those rumors, Politico reported at the time, saying he would commit to seeing out the remainder of his term.

Ty Cobb

A former member of Trump’s legal team, Cobb has resumed his private legal practice after departing the administration in 2018.

The Great Bend native appears to be running a single-member firm in Washington, D.C., and is currently involved in the high-profile extradition of two men wanted in Japan for helping former Nissan Motors executive Carlos Ghosn escape the country.

Dan Drake, left, CEO of Sarus Systems, showcases his disinfecting sanitizing cabinet alongside former U.S. Senate candidate Kris Kobach, who is consulting for him.