TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- One day after announcing he would not run for Senate next year, former Gov. Jeff Colyer is urging a current Senate candidate to drop out and run for a different job - one already held by a fellow Republican.
Colyer said he wants Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner to run for the 2nd Dist. Congressional seat currently held by freshman Congressman Steve Watkins.
“The citizens of the 2nd Congressional District are solid, conservative folks who deserve to be represented by a Republican that shares their values," he explained in a statement Tuesday.
Within hours of Colyer's statement, LaTurner responded by saying he is open to the idea and would consider it.
“I am humbled by the encouraging words of Governor Colyer and will take some time with my family to prayerfully consider his suggestion that I run for the 2nd Congressional District seat,” he said.
Colyer contended out that while President Donald Trump won the district by nearly 20 points, Watkins only won by two percentage points over state Rep. Paul Davis. He went onto say that Watkins "first eight months in Congress have seen poor fundraising and a lack of coalition building."
“Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats are going to throw everything they have at the 2nd District and it’s important that Republicans nominate a candidate that can win," Colyer continued.
LaTurner grew up in southeast Kansas and lives in Topeka, making him lifelong resident of the Second District, Colyer explained. He also pointed out LaTurner would begin his campaign with nearly $470,000 on hand, which, he says, is more than Watkins has.
Watkins fires back
Last Friday, Watkins indicated he planned to run for re-election in 2020 in a tweet referencing him potentially resigning and denying he would.
"Let me get this straight…. I have to deny a resignation that no one called for. Got it. Done. K, going back to work. See you in November," he tweeted.
On Tuesday, his campaign spokesperson Jim Joice struck back directly at Colyer's call, saying "(i)t's no surprise insiders are once again trying to force out an outsider. Kansans are sick and tired of these attempted political swamp chess moves."
Joice argued, by beating Davis, Watkins defeated the Democrats' best candidate in a long time who was backed by millions in outside spending.
"Second Congressional District voters voted for an outsider and will do so again in 2020,” Joice concluded.