Politics & Government

James Thompson, weighing U.S. Senate run, arrested for driving with suspended license

A Wichita attorney weighing a bid for U.S. Senate was arrested for driving with a suspended license.

Democrat James Thompson, who has run twice for Congress, was arrested Jan. 27 in Greenwood County, east of Wichita. The arrest comes as he considers a campaign to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in 2020.

Reached by phone Monday, Thompson said his license was suspended in January because of a speeding ticket he had failed to pay in Sedgwick County. He said he didn’t realize his suspended license status when he went on an annual hunting trip with friends later that month.

On the way back from the hunting trip, he was pulled over for speeding and arrested for driving while suspended.

“It is what it is,” Thompson said. “My friends had gone to the Dollar General store and got Wyatt Earp mustaches and took a picture of me like I was in a wanted poster.”

The Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the arrest.

According to Wichita Municipal Court records, Thompson was ticketed for speeding on Nov. 15. The traffic citation says Thompson’s vehicle was going 56 mph in a 40-mph zone on East Central between Greenwich and 127th Street.

He has paid his fine in Sedgwick County and gotten his license reinstated, Thompson said. He will appear in court in Greenwood County later this month in an effort to reduce the charge.

Thompson said he still has not decided on whether he will run for U.S. Senate in 2020.

A host of Republican candidates are considering running for Senate. Thompson is one of a small number on the Democratic side are who are publicly weighing bids. Former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom is also considering a run as a Democrat.

Thompson gained attention in 2017 when he came within 8 percentage points of overtaking Republican Ron Estes in Kansas’s 4th Congressional District in a special election. He lost to Estes again in 2018.

After the election, Thompson announced he would serve as director of the New American Majority Action Fund, which is focused on boosting voter turnout among people of color, single women and young people in conservative states.

Thompson is also chairman of Kansas Democrats’ 4th Congressional District.

Contributing: Tim Potter of The Eagle

Jonathan Shorman covers Kansas politics and the Legislature for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. He’s been covering politics for six years, first in Missouri and now in Kansas. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.
Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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