Politics & Government

Former U.S. Rep. Tiahrt exploring whether to seek old seat

Tiahrt File photo

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt said he’s exploring whether to pursue his old congressional seat now that his successor has been tapped to serve as director of the CIA.

Tiahrt, who represented the state’s 4th Congressional District from 1995 to 2011, would not say for certain whether he would seek the seat in the special election that will happen if U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as CIA director in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

“I’m looking at the options, like a thousand people probably,” Tiahrt said. “I’m exploring the options.”

If Pompeo is confirmed, Republican and Democratic committees will select nominees to square off in a special election.

Tiahrt gave up the U.S. House seat to run for U.S. Senate, losing a close primary race to U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran in 2010. He attempted to reclaim his seat in the House four years later but lost to Pompeo by 26 percentage points after a bitter primary campaign that saw both candidates engage in personal attacks.

Since he left Congress, Tiahrt has worked as a consultant advising companies on government affairs at the federal and state levels. He is registered with the U.S. House and Senate as a lobbyist for the National Association for the Employment of Persons who are Blind.

Tiahrt said Wichita has remained his primary residence.

Tiahrt served four years as a Republican national committeeman for the state party but did not seek re-election. The man who replaced him in that job this year, state Rep. Mark Kahrs, R-Wichita, was among those who had been floated as a possible contender for Pompeo’s seat. Kahrs said he has decided to stay out of the congressional race.

Kahrs, an attorney, did not seek re-election to the Legislature and said in a statement that “the circumstances that surrounded my decision to not return to Topeka and its impact on my family and business interests still exist today and would only be exasperated by serving in Congress.”

“Therefore, I have decided to not seek my party’s nomination,” Kahrs said. “I look forward to supporting our eventual nominee.”

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3