After what has to be among the oddest 48 hours in Kansas politics, freshman Rep. Steve Watkins, R.-Kan., denied early Friday evening the mounting rumors GOP leaders were calling for his resignation for unspecified reasons.
“Let me get this straight,” Watkins tweeted, “I have to deny a resignation that no one called for. Got it done. Okay, going back to work. See you in November.”
Watkins’ curt tweet came two days after constituents in the Sunflower State’s 2nd District (Topeka-Atchison) were hit with stunning news reports: that unnamed party leaders in Kansas and Washington DC were pressuring Watkins to resign.
As for why there was a “Watkins Must Go” wave, no one was saying.
Questioned about these reports following a speech at the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday evening, the congressman suddenly left the event.
“Two news reporters chased and shouted after Watkins as he stepped into the passenger side of a waiting SUV and smirked as the vehicle pulled away,” reported the Topeka “Capital Journal.”
“This is all a complete surprise,” businessman Ross Freeman, the 1976 Republican nominee for Congress in the 2nd District, told Newsmax, “I knew nothing about any of these things regarding [Watkins] until I read it in the paper Friday morning.”
As to what led to these reports and Watkins’ denial of something unspecified, there is considerable speculation. A West Point graduate who served in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Afghanistan, Watkins won his first-ever race for office in ’18 by topping six opponents (including two state senators) to win the Republican nomination for the seat of retiring Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins.
Most Kansans who spoke to Newsmax attribute his success to a $700,-000-plus expenditure on Watkins’ behalf from a “SuperPAC” run by his wealthy physician-father.
In November, Watkins eked out a close win over Democrat and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis. In that campaign, questions were raised about Watkins on various fronts: precisely what he had done in the military, his lack of having voted in Kansas or anyplace, and whether he was dating other women while engaged last year.
What the latest charges against him are—and whether this is the end or beginning of fresh controversy for Steve Watkins, remain to be seen.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.