State Sen. Susan Wagle, who once expressed interest in running for the 4th District congressional seat, announced Tuesday that she would instead endorse candidate Mike Pompeo.
"Kansas is facing a budget crisis unlike any crisis we have faced in recent history," she said Tuesday.
"It would not be right as a leader of the conservative movement to walk away from an economic downturn, or for that matter, even divert my attention away from the needs of Kansans."
Wagle, who is serving her third term in the state Senate, made her announcement at the Wichita Area Builder's Association building in downtown Wichita, where she was joined by Pompeo and some of his supporters.
Never miss a local story.
"I really am humbled ... to have garnered the support of someone with the conservative credentials of Susan Wagle," Pompeo said.
"I think conservatives understand that you've got a warrior here heading back to Topeka."
Wagle said her endorsement of Pompeo, a Republican national committeeman, was not intended to be a slight toward two fellow senators who are seeking the seat, Dick Kelsey and Jean Schodorf. Wagle said she respected both.
"However, for the daunting task that lies ahead in Washington, we need someone who stands out above the crowd,'' she said. "Someone who will be recognized instantly as a leader. Someone who has the ability to guide and influence others on our behalf, who has inner strength and strong convictions."
Pompeo, a graduate of West Point, is president of Sentry International, an oilfield supply company, and a former CEO of Thayer Aerospace.
Five candidates are seeking the Republican nomination for the seat now held by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who is running for U.S. Senate: Pompeo, Kelsey, Schodorf and businessmen Jim Anderson and Wink Hartman.
State Rep. Raj Goyle and retired court services officer Robert Tillman are contending for the Democratic nomination.
Wagle, who has battled cancer in the past, also said she was given a clean bill of health two weeks ago.
"The big C has a way of refocusing people," she said. "Cancer patients tend to evaluate how best to make the most of every moment they have left, whether it is 10 days or 10 years. Through this experience, I have decided my time and my political expertise are best spent here in Kansas."