COUNCIL GROVE - Michael Soetaert, 55, a Council Grove Republican, is throwing his hat into the ring - again.

Soetaert is running in the Nov. 5 general election for Council Grove City Council and Council Grove mayor. He also is running in the Republican August 2020 primary for the 1st Congressional District seat. 

Running for the two offices in Council Grove is allowed, but if Soetaert wins both races, he will have to choose which position he’ll take - mayor or councilmember. Council Grove is in Morris County and Soetaert registered as a Morris County voter on April 4, 2018. Soetaert announced his bids for Council Grove office after opening Gallery 1857 in Council Grove.

On Sept. 10, Soetaert filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission, seeking the U.S. House of Representatives seat in the Big First. That came three days after U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Great Bend, announced he was running for the U.S. Senate in 2020, with the retirement of U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts.

He has established a site on GoFundMe.com to raise $5.6 million for his campaign. As of Tuesday, it showed one donation of $5.

Soetaert described himself as a “conservative” and as “pro-life.” On his FEC candidacy paper, he listed his title as Reverend. He said he has been ordained three times.

Soetaert expects the 1st District probably will have one of the “nastiest races in Kansas history.” Republicans already in the race include former Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann, Salina; State Rep. Troy Waymaster, Bunker Hill; and Finney County Commissioner Bill Clifford, Garden City. Democrats in the race include Kali Barnett, Garden City, a former teacher; and former executive director of Symphony in the Flint Hills Christy Davis, Cottonwood Falls. 

Soetaert said Waymaster and Mann are too valuable for Kansas to be sent to Washington. He wrote that his "gubernatorial dream team for the great state of Kansas” would be Waymaster and Mann.

Soetaert knows Democrat Davis and said she has a campaign office on one corner in Council Grove, and he has an office on another corner.

“I’m running a conservative, pro-life Republican campaign,” Soetaert said. “It’s really essential that we have someone who is going to fight for pro-life farming and ranching families,” he said “That’s really what this campaign is all about,” he said.

Farming and ranching are key to the economy of the 1st District, he said, which covers 63 counties, including Reno County. “We must have a sustained presence on the House Agriculture Committee,” he said, referring to a committee on which Marshall serves.

“This primary is going to be ground zero for Congressional races in the United States,” Soetaert said. He indicated he would release more information as the campaign progresses.