GOP Gets Scare in Kansas Special Election, But Holds On

Kristopher Drake
April 13, 2017

"Great win in Kansas last night for Ron Estes, easily winning the Congressional race against the Dems, who spent heavily & predicted victory!" Republicans are defending four GOP-leaning seats - the Kansas seat plus Georgia, Montana and SC - while Democrats are protecting a seat in a liberal California district. Estes defeated Democrat James Thompson, drawing 52.5 percent of the vote to Thompson's 45.7 percent.

Libertarian Chris Rockhold trailed a distant third in the race.

By congressional race standards, that's a fairly paltry sum and a reflection of the fact that Kansas is a pretty low-cost, low-risk state when it comes to campaign spending.

Pompeo, a Republican who won by 31 percentage points in November, gave up his seat in the Fourth Congressional District in January to serve as President Donald Trump's director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The 17-county congressional district includes the state's largest city of Wichita, home to Koch Industries, the company led by conservative billionaire political donors Charles and David Koch. If the casual Democratic voter knows that a Democrat will secure the top job, will they be less likely to vote at all?

Some Democrats are smelling blood in the water, Rackaway said.

The president also recorded a robocall and tweeted his support for Estes on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both made robocalls in favor of Estes and Sen.

The Estes campaign pulled in Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to campaign Monday Wichita. "And we've shown that this district is not just competitive but that we can win it", Thompson said. A wonderful guy, I need his help on Healthcare & Tax Cuts (Reform).

With the announcement that Democratic officials are sending operatives to California to help elect Democrats in the seven congressional seats now held by Republicans that Democratic strategists believe are vulnerable, it would be ironic if the Republicans held those seats because an all-Democratic gubernatorial race kept less engaged Democratic voters away from the polls.

Zac Petkanas, who recently departed from running the Democratic National Committee's Trump war room, said the same standard applies to Democratic opposition to Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, even though it resulted in Republicans changing Senate rules to get Gorsuch confirmed.

The Heritage Foundation's Rachel Bovard argues, "I think the closeness of this race is a warning to the GOP". If Democrats can net 24 seats, they would recapture the majority. "They just had to put their name on the ballot, and Ron Estes was going to be a congressman in a few months". Estes had double his campaign cash.

With that district secured, Republicans now have to turn their attention to defending several other seats vacated by Trump cabinet members, including Montana's at-large district and Georgia's sixth Congressional district. Yes, it was certainly a referendum on Donald Trump. They will be facing an energized - even an enraged - Democratic party and will be able to take nothing for granted.

After a public callout by Rachel Maddow, the Democrats dragged themselves into the tight Georgia special election, one that could see Democrat Jon Ossoff win the seat formerly held by new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. While the DCCC did jump in and make calls for him at the last minute when they realized how close the race was, party higher-ups largely sat it out as a lost cause.

The press also minimized the potentially negative impact of a somewhat unpopular GOP governor.

"I can't stand Brownback", she said as she left her polling site in Belle Plaine.

In 2016, Estes said his office had returned $100 million in unclaimed property since he became state treasurer. "How we got to be the Limousine Liberals and the Latte Liberals is genius on the part of Republicans", Ryan said.

"I wanted to run in 2018 one way or the other", he said at an event with supporters.

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