TOPEKA – Former Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo served in key positions in President Donald Trump’s administration before forming a political action committee to support conservative candidates in 2022 and potentially lay the groundwork for a presidential campaign in 2024.
Pompeo, who served Trump as CIA director and secretary of state, is considered a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. He is president of Champion American Values PAC, or CAVPAC. It was formed a year ago and has raised $3.2 million by the end of 2021.
The PAC has spent more than $2 million, including contributions to a handful of Republicans who angered the former president by refusing to challenge the 2020 election result or supporting the infrastructure bill of President Joe Biden in 2021.
Patrick Miller, a professor of political science at the University of Kansas, said Pompeo seemed ambitious and the PAC would help him stay politically relevant for a year in which he won’t be on a ballot.
It’s not clear that Pompeo would seek the GOP nomination for president, Miller said, but Trump has found ways to keep potential nominees on the lookout. Anyone considering a Republican presidential candidacy must distinguish between not alienating Trump or his die-hard supporters and participating in the normal process of circulating endorsements and vetting among party candidates, Miller said.
“Trump is really attacking what seems like a lot of Republicans right now on certain votes or positions or things that they’ve done,” Miller said. “It seems like a lot of establishment types don’t side with Trump, but go out of their way to praise him and not be mean with what he’s doing.”
CAVPAC spends $2.1 million
Federal Election Commission reports show that CAVPAC spent $2.2 last year to begin building political alliances that would be helpful to a presidential candidate.
Recipients of PAC funding included U.S. Senator James Lankford, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma who was prepared to oppose the counting of swing state electoral votes as part of an attempt by Trump loyalists to undo the 2020 presidential election.
Lankford, who received $2,500 from CAVPAC in October, was in the Senate Jan. 6 explaining his reasons for opposing President Joe Biden’s certification of victory when a crowd stormed the U.S. Capitol. Lankford then voted to certify the 2020 election.
Pompeo’s PAC donated $2,500 to at least three Republican congressmen – Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Don Bacon of Nebraska and Andrew Garbarino of New York – among the 13 GOP members voting in favor of the bill on $1.2 trillion infrastructure.
Trump said GOP lawmakers joining Democrats in voting for the bill should be ashamed, adding, “Very sad that the House and Senate RINOs gave Biden and the Democrats the win.”
Regarding CAVPAC, Pompeo said the immediate goal is to help Republicans claim majorities in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate while expanding the reach of conservatives in U.S. legislatures and governorships. states.
“I think 2022 will be a very good year nationwide for CAVPAC-approved applicants. We are going to win races from the school board to the United States Senate,” Pompeo said in a social media message to supporters.
The big question
Bob Beatty, a professor of political science at Washburn University, said Trump’s hints about running for president a third time were creating a campaign stalemate. Candidates such as Pompeo are likely to hold back until Trump’s intent becomes clear, he said.
“Pompeo is an attractive presidential candidate for the GOP,” Beatty said. “In a normal American political era, he would be running full blast right now.”
Emporia State University political science faculty member Michael Smith said Pompeo would have a mountain to climb before he reached a level where he would be competitive nationally.
Pompeo was elected to the United States House four times from the Wichita area, but his popularity in Kansas has been questioned because he never held statewide political office before joining Trump administration in Washington, D.C. Trump remains popular with his base in Kansas, Smith said, but there’s no consensus on who conservatives in the state would make second choice for president.
“I wouldn’t call it first tier,” Smith said. “The big question for me is, now that Trump is out of power, is it Trump or something he represents?”