(Bloomberg) -- Michael Pompeo on Saturday opened a personal Twitter account, spurring renewed talk that the U.S. secretary of state is preparing to run for the Senate from Kansas in 2020.
The handle, @mikepompeo, issued four tweets over the weekend and had attracted more than 9,000 followers by midday on Sunday. Pompeo’s official account is followed by 1 million people.
The State Department has requested in the past that the top U.S. diplomat be referred to as “Michael” in media reports. The arrival of the more folksy “Mike” on social media hints at Pompeo’s potential move back into politics.
After flatly rejecting the idea early this year, Pompeo, who turns 56 on Dec. 30, has recently dodged questions about whether he’ll run for the seat being vacated by Republican Senator Pat Roberts in 2020.
The native Californian has been acting like a candidate -- he’s made at least four official visits to his adopted home state this year. In late October, Pompeo toured an aircraft manufacturer in Wichita, accompanied by White House adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump, and met with student athletes from Wichita State University, the Wichita Eagle newspaper reported.
President Trump in November said Pompeo, one of his closest aides within the administration, would “win in a landslide,” and predicted on Fox News that the diplomat would join the race if there’s any risk Republicans could lose the seat in 2020.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Politico in June that Pompeo was his “first choice” for the seat.
Pompeo’s Twitter bio describes him as “husband, father, Kansan and proud American” who is “currently serving” as Secretary of State. The cover photo depicts a pastoral scene from the major wheat growing state. It shows that “Mike Pompeo” joined Twitter in August, but the account’s first posts were about Saturday’s Army-Navy football game.
The former Republican representative from Kansas, who gave up his House seat in 2017 to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency, graduated first in his class from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Pompeo tweeted that although Army lost Saturday’s grudge match against Navy, it’s still “the best rivalry in sports.”
Among the declared Republican candidates for the 2020 Senate election are Kris Kobach, a former Kansas secretary of state. The immigration hard-liner was the Republican nominee for governor in 2018, losing to Democrat Laura Kelly.
Democratic candidates for Roberts’ seat include state Senator Barbara Bollier and Usha Reddi, mayor pro tem of the Kansas city of Manhattan.
Pompeo’s personal Twitter account was following 46 other handles by Sunday, including Kansas college and professional sports teams, local media outlets, and various conservative pundits.
(Updates number of Pompeo Twitter followers in second paragraph.)
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