Sam Brownback will have a fellow Kansas Republican as his new boss at the U.S. State Department if the U.S. Senate approves Mike Pompeo’s nomination to lead the agency.
President Donald Trump announced Tuesday on Twitter the departure of Rex Tillerson and his selection of Pompeo, Trump CIA director who spent six years representing Kansas’ 4th congressional district during the period Brownback served as the state’s governor.
Brownback stepped down at the end of January to serve as Trump’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, a position that would put him directly under Pompeo at the State Department if the Senate confirms the Wichita Republican as Tillerson’s replacement.
Mark Peterson, a political scientist at Washburn University in Topeka, burst into laughter when contemplating Pompeo as Brownback’s new boss.
“Sam is now working for Mike Pompeo. And neither one of them are in Kansas anymore, Dorothy,” Peterson said. “I don’t suppose Mike will be giving Sam close direction… unless we really are counting on theological lightning bolts altering the world dynamic.”
The State Department said that Brownback would not release any statements on the news, but his closest political confidant celebrated the choice of Pompeo to head the head the agency.
“Spectacular choice. He’ll be brilliant,” David Kensinger, Brownback’s former chief of staff, said in a text message shortly after Pompeo’s nomination was announced.
Kensinger, who managed Brownback’s 2010 campaign, predicted that the former governor would work well with his fellow Kansan in Washington.
“Good news for both. They have a great relationship,” Kensinger said.
Peterson predicted Pompeo, who was easily confirmed as CIA director last year, would have a much easier confirmation to the new post than Brownback who needed Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking vote after every Democrat in the Senate voted against him.
Brownback’s move to the ambassadorship was largely seen as an exit from the political stage for a man who had once been considered a potential prospect for the presidency.
On the other hand, Pompeo’s quick rise from Kansas congressman to a nomination as the country’s top diplomat in roughly a year signals that his political prospects could continue to rise, Peterson said.