Former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced Monday that he would seek the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Sen. (R-Kan.), becoming the highest-profile Democrat yet to jump into the race.
Grissom, who served as the top federal prosecutor in Kansas from 2010 to 2016, has entertained the possibility of a Senate bid for months, meeting with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) officials and Senate Minority Leader (D-N.Y.) about a potential run.
In his announcement, Grissom recalled how he helped “lead the investigation and successful prosecution against the Wichita Airport and Fort Riley bombers,” and touted his record combating gang violence.
“As a federal prosecutor, I’m proud that I was able to stand up for Western Kansas and work with local sheriffs and police to help drive the violent Norteños gang off the streets of Dodge City, and disarm felons throughout the region,” he said. “Now I’m running for the United States Senate, because I know we can do more for our health care and rural hospitals, we can fight harder for good paying jobs and education, and we must continue to keep the American people safe.”
Democrats are bullish on their chances of winning the Kansas Senate seat in 2020, arguing that Roberts’s retirement and a potentially crowded Republican primary field to replace him has created an opening.
Also encouraging Democrats is Gov. Laura Kelly’s victory in last year’s gubernatorial election and Rep. ’s (D-Kan.) successful bid to flip the state’s 3rd District.
But flipping Roberts’s Senate seat may prove to be a more difficult task. A Democrat has not won a Senate race in Kansas since 1932. And Republicans argue that Kelly’s win in the governor’s race had less to do with Democrats’ appeal to voters than her Republican challenger’s weaknesses as a candidate.
Another prominent Democrat may yet enter the Senate race: state Sen. Barbara Bollier.
Bollier, who won her state senate seat as a Republican, switched her party affiliation to Democratic last year. She has also reportedly met with Schumer about a potential run for Roberts’s seat.