After close race, business as usual?

Cheryl Sanders
April 23, 2017

Former Congressman Mike Pompeo, who vacated the seat in 2017 to run the Central Intelligence Agency under the Trump administration, won the congressional seat in 2016 with 61% of the vote.

Republican Ron Estes on Tuesday won a special election to replace Mike Pompeo as the Kansas 4th Congressional District representative, the Associated Press reported.

The special election was closely watched for any anti-Trump backlash against Republicans.

Trump won 60 percent of the votes cast in the 17-county congressional district that includes the state's largest city of Wichita. Trump also tweeted his support of Estes the night before the election, calling him a "wonderful guy" and saying he needs Estes' support to repeal the ACA.

National Democrats had mostly stayed out of the race that had until recently promised to be a Republican landslide.

The results left Republicans jittery - particularly about their prospects in the special election on April 18 in Georgia's 6th District, where Democrat Jon Ossoff continues to keep the race competitive.

It was a victory for Estes and for other Republicans in the state. Thompson received 55,310, or 46 percent, and Libertarian Chris Rockhold received 2,082, or 2 percent. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both recorded get-out-the-vote calls on behalf of Estes, the state's treasurer.

While the Republican majority congress continues to push through its legislative agenda, one suburban congressional district in a Southern state is giving Democrats momentum for upcoming elections.

The ad in question, "Your Vote Counts", has the mild-mannered Estes waist-deep in waders festooned with a campaign sticker, "After eight years of Obama, America is weaker, and the swamp is deeper than we thought".

Only Sedgwick County showed Thompson ahead of Estes. He defeated James Thompson, the Democratic candidate, in the first national test of his party's electoral strength, in a contest that saw a late infusion of national support from Republicans nervous about the tumultuous political environment during President Trump's first months in office.

Instead, Democrats need to make an effort to heavily campaign before the week of elections in conservative areas. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who won the Kansas caucus in the Republican presidential primary, campaigned for Estes over the weekend. Doing more than that, Democrats anonymously told Huffington Post, would have been "extremely damaging" to Thompson because Republicans could use it against him.

Estes has served as treasurer for the state of Kansas since 2011. By contrast, Pompeo's narrowest victory, in 2014, was by just under 70,000 votes. Brownback, one of the least popular governors in the U.S., may have been more effective for Democrats in this race than anything Trump has said or done so far in his administration. Races for governor in Virginia and New Jersey next fall could also provide a window into Trump's popularity.

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