U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins, R-Kan., makes a point during a town hall meeting, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, in Topeka, Kan. Watkins is getting heat from some frustrated constituents who want him to publicly endorse tougher gun-control measures in the wake of recent mass shootings. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Ex-Kansas governor seeks primary challenger for Rep. Watkins

August 27, 2019 - 12:21 pm

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer is calling for a GOP primary challenger for freshman Rep. Steve Watkins in his eastern Kansas district.

Colyer on Tuesday urged state Treasurer Jake LaTurner to drop out of next year's U.S. Senate race in Kansas and run for Watkins' congressional seat.

Colyer issued a statement saying the district's voters are "solid, conservative folks" who deserve to be represented by someone sharing their values. Colyer spokesman Colton Gibson said the former Republican governor is concerned that Watkins cannot win re-election next year.

Watkins is a former Army officer who won the seat in 2018 by less than a percentage point as a political unknown. President Donald Trump carried the district easily in 2016.

Watkins' spokesman and LaTurner's campaign did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

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