Mike Pompeo's former rivals in Tuesday's Republican primary are not exactly rushing to embrace his general election campaign in the Kansas 4th Congressional District.
Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, businessmen Wink Hartman and Jim Anderson — the second, third and fourth-place finishers who shared 60 percent of the votes cast — said they haven't had any contact with Pompeo since before election day.
None of the three has decided whether to endorse Pompeo, who won the primary with 39 percent of the vote — and they said they're not sure if they will after the bruising primary campaign.
The Pompeo campaign declined to respond directly to issues raised by its former campaign rivals and issued a statement reading, in full:
"We're getting a great response from Kansans of all stripes, Republicans, independents and Democrats, who support Mike and oppose the Obama-Pelosi agenda. There is a strong majority who want a congressman who represents us, not Obama and Pelosi."
Schodorf, who finished second with 24 percent of the GOP vote, said she left a message for Pompeo after conceding the race. But she said no one from the Pompeo campaign called her back.
She said she signed a pledge to support Republicans, and has begun campaigning for Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, in his race against incumbent Democratic Attorney General Steve Six.
Of Pompeo, she said, "the jury is out on that."
"I want to have a talk with him, if he will talk to me," she said.
She said she still is angry over a blitz of negative ads attacking her, launched in the final days of the campaign by outside groups backing Pompeo.
She remains particularly incensed by a radio ad that dramatized a man going into a Wildlife and Parks office seeking a "hunting license" because he was "trying to bag a RINO."
RINO is an acronym for "Republican in name only," a term generally used as a pejorative for GOP members who are perceived to diverge from conservative orthodoxy, especially on abortion and taxes.
The ad was placed by "Common Sense Issues," an Ohio-based political group that, according to federal election filings, spent $124,100 backing Pompeo and attacking Hartman and Schodorf through media ads and phone campaigns. The source of the group's funding is unknown.
The Pompeo campaign has said it had nothing to do with the group's activities.
Schodorf, a lifelong Republican except for a brief period when she temporarily switched parties to vote for her ex-husband in a Democratic primary, said the RINO ad was graphic and offensive and appeared to advocate violence.
She said if anyone had run an ad like that on her behalf, "I would have denounced it. They (the Pompeo campaign) didn't do that."
She said that she thinks it's "an omen" for the fall campaign in which Pompeo, a Republican national committeeman, will take on the Democratic Party nominee, Rep. Raj Goyle, D-Wichita.
"I don't want to have anything to do with a terrible, negative campaign," she said.
Back to business
Hartman, who spent more than $1.6 million on the race — most of it his own money — finished third with 23 percent of the votes.
His once front-running campaign was derailed after the Pompeo campaign charged that he had established Florida residency to reduce his taxes, and brought up a 29-year-old quote in which Hartman had complimented Planned Parenthood.
Hartman said he has returned to running his businesses, which include oil, restaurant, arena and football interests.
"The night of Aug. 3 (election night), I was contacted by Raj Goyle and Jim Anderson and Jean Schodorf," he said. "I did not hear one word from the Pompeo campaign. I'm assuming they would prefer I stay on the sidelines.
"I'm just assuming ... that they're going to go their own direction."
Anderson, a small-business owner and tea party activist who came from nowhere to get 13 percent of the vote, said he plans to remain a part of the race whether Pompeo wants him to or not.
"No one's contacted me, and I don't know that they will," he said.
But he said he plans to keep his Web and social-networking presence up and running and "continue to comment on the race between Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Goyle."
Anderson, who has been critical of both political parties, said GOP and anti-abortion leaders tried to push him out of the primary from behind the scenes because they supported Pompeo.
He said that behavior is not ethical.
"I'm not going to be beholden to the party and toe the line because I don't think they're doing the right thing," he said. "The thing they want me to do is go away and not be seen again."
No ill will
Paij Rutschman, who placed last in the GOP primary with about 2 percent of the vote, said she plans to run again for office at the federal level and bears no ill will toward Pompeo.
"What I will do is send him a congratulation note and make a donation to his campaign," she said.
But she said she won't be able to do much more than that because in campaigning, she used up her time off from her job at Boeing.
"They really need me to get back in the game as an engineer," she said.
State Sen. Dick Kelsey, who was in the race but dropped out because his wife was going through health problems, predicted the general election is going to be at least as contentious as the primary.
Kelsey, who endorsed Pompeo when he suspended his own campaign, said he expects outside groups independent from the campaigns to pour in attack ads from both sides.
Of the lingering hard feelings from the GOP primary, he said: "I do believe it's a scar that can heal, but to do that, it's going to take effort on all their parts. It's important that it happen."