Former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt heated up the primary race after he announced Thursday that he will challenge incumbent Mike Pompeo in the state’s 4th Congressional District, setting up for an interesting showdown between two prominent conservative Republicans.
Tiahrt entered the race in an attempt to win back his old House seat with an announcement before 100 cheering supporters at the Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita per Kansascity.com. He represented the south-central Kansas district from 1995 up until 2011.
Pompeo is looking to win for his third, two-year term. He won the seat in 2010 when Tiahrt gave up a re-election bid to run for U.S. Senate. Tiahrt ultimately lost the Republican nomination in a heated contest with Jerry Moran, who won the Senate race in November.
The contest between Pompeo and Tiahrt is shaping up to be one of the bigger political races of the year in Kansas, and both campaigns signaled that it could be as contentious as the U.S. Senate primary four years ago.
“It’ll probably be a very intense race,” said Clay Barker, the Kansas Republican Party’s executive director. “We’ll have to heal the rift when it’s over.”
Pompeo enters the race with a sizeable financial advantage. According to the campaign finance reports, he ended March with more than $2.1 million in cash for his campaign, while Tiahrt is entering essentially from scratch. But Barker said that Todd Tiahrt has enough name recognition to allow a later start.
The former congressman’s announcement ended months of reported rumors among Republicans about what his next move would be.
“I have not changed,” Tiahrt told his supporters. “I’m the same person that fought for your values, your ideas and your freedoms.”
Before Tiahrt entered the race and shook up the competition, Pompeo had been favored to win another term in the 4th Disctirct, where Republicans have a nearly 21 percentage-point advantage among registered voters.
Todd Tiahrt Vies for District Seat, Heats Up Primary Race