Don't Read into the Close Race in Kansas

Cheryl Sanders
April 14, 2017

As Thompson and Estes battled it out in the final days before the special election, the national Democratic Party did little to counter the late effort of Republican leaders, who poured money into the congressional campaign. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and robocalls recorded by both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

"Republicans nationally should be very anxious", said Bob Beatty, a Washburn University political scientist. Bernie Sanders' campaign for the presidency previous year and chose to run for the 4th District.

Republican Ron Estes says his victory in a special congressional election in Kansas shows that it remains a solid GOP state. "That's an incredibly impressive showing". And Estes' struggles were also seen as a rebuke to unpopular Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. On March 30, Brownback vetoed a bill that would have expanded Medicaid eligibility for low-income residents. The district has been hurt by the downturn in the agricultural economy and the loss of hundreds of well-paying, blue-collar jobs in aircraft manufacturing plants.

Democrats were hoping to score an anti-Trump victory in the district Pompeo won in November with 60 percent of the vote.

In this March 23, 2017, photo, Democrat James Thompson, a candidate for Kansas' 4th Congressional District, speaks during a debate in Wichita, Kan. But Thompson won in Sedgwick County, which includes Wichita. The 46-year-old political newcomer was backed by Our Revolution, the group that continues the work of Sen.

In a speech to supporters in Wichita, Thompson vowed that he would run for the seat again in 2018 and argued that the result was evidence that no Republican district is safe. "Ron is going to be helping us, big league".

"We set out about 60, 75 days ago with people who told us we didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning. But having help earlier I think would have been better".

Republicans held on to a U.S. congressional seat yesterday, although by a smaller margin than expected, in their first electoral test since Donald Trump won the presidency. Other seats are from South Carolina, Georgia and Montana.

With the Kansas race over, attention will shift to next week's free-for-all in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, left vacant when Tom Price became health and human services secretary. She learned that firsthand in November 2016 when the one-time Republican Allen ran as an independent in the 4th Congressional District against Republican incumbent Mike Pompeo, plus a Democrat and a Libertarian.

"Republican Ron Estes needs your vote and needs it badly", Trump said in his minute-long call.

Democrat strategist Matt McDermott came to the defense of the DCCC. I think that those congressmen and senators need to be looking at their positions on things, because there's going to be backlash and there's going to be people who lose their seats in 2018 as a result of it.

Though it's far too early to know whether those Democratic gains will hold through the 2018 midterm elections, Kansas was an ominous sign for the GOP ahead of a much closer Georgia 6th District special election next week in Atlanta's northern suburbs - as well as other upcoming special elections in Montana and SC.

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