In the News
If it wasn’t already clear enough, the way he announced the end of his political career demonstrated exactly how much U.S. Senator Pat Roberts has meant to Manhattan.
Sen. Roberts said on Friday that he won’t run for re-election in 2020. That means his tenure — since 1996 in the Senate, and since 1980 in Congress — will come to an end in about two years.
It wasn’t just what he said. It’s where he said it, and what that symbolized, that stood out to us.
His announcement occurred at the headquarters of the state Department of Agriculture. He picked that because of his track record of support for agriculture, and his belief in its central role for the state and nation.
But it’s noteworthy that the state moved the headquarters of that agency from Topeka to Manhattan a few years back.
Just down the hill, as he pointed out, is the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, the big federal lab that is under construction. Sen. Roberts played a central role in the effort to get that facility built, and to put it in Manhattan. It’s fair to say that without his expertise, influence, and ability to build coalitions, it’s unlikely that project would exist.
Eventually, when it is operational, that will become a pillar of the Manhattan economy, a large employer in the state of Kansas, and an important cog in the nation’s defenses.
The press conference announcing Sen. Roberts’ retirement occurred on Kansas State University land, another obvious connection. The Senator is an alum and a proud and vocal supporter. You could see him at many home K-State football games, hollering to throw the ball to the tight end.
Manhattan has been extremely fortunate in recent years, blessed by good political leadership locally and in Topeka and Washington. U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and his family live here now, and have long been strong advocates for Manhattan. Sen. Roberts is clearly not the only one.
But because of his connection to K-State, and his love for this community, Sen. Roberts helped lead the way for an era of unprecedented success here. Once again, we tip our cap to him, and thank him for his service. We look forward to his two remaining years in office, and then we’ll wish him well in his retirement.
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