Published: Wed, April 19, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Republicans survive election scare, narrowly win Kansas seat

In November, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, who resigned to become President Donald Trump's Central Intelligence Agency director, carried the district by 31 points.

Estes narrowly lost the district's most populous county around the city of Wichita. Donald Trump also won the district by 27 percent.

The race attracted nearly no national support from the Democratic Party. And DCCC officials say their involvement there - along with the relationship they've tried building with activists groups and the 20 staffers they sent into Republican districts in February - is proof they have a strong partnership with their party's grassroots.

"Republicans nationally should be very anxious", said Bob Beatty, a Washburn University political scientist. Both Estes and Thompson had major get-out-the vote drives.

The Democratic candidate who ran an unexpectedly competitive race in a special congressional election in Kansas plans to run for the seat again in 2018. He also didn't vote for Trump in the last year's general election.

The fact that backlash against the Republican Party is deep enough to filter down to such small offices, and broad enough to flip conservative small towns, should have the GOP sweating.

In Kansas, one factor was Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who remains unpopular because the state has faced serious budget problems since the governor and GOP lawmakers slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013.

Voters in Kansas' 4th District haven't elected a Democrat to Congress in more than 20 years, since then-Rep. Democrats almost caught Republican napping and came close to plucking one seat away from the GOP's majority, but ... they didn't, and in the end didn't really come close - even with the head start and organizational advantage.

In a sign of nervousness in the waning days of the campaign, Republicans poured money into the race to bolster Estes. The Estes campaign pulled in Sen.

Dominating the outside spending in these races are the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super political action committee linked to House GOP leaders, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, a national party committee.

"When they think about choices, they tend to think big choices: change versus status quo", Rothenberg said. "I realized this was important". Others are in Georgia, Montana and SC. The district has been hard hit by the downturn in the agricultural economy and the loss of hundreds of well-paying, blue-collar jobs in aircraft manufacturing plants. Wichita is home to Koch Industries, the company led by conservative billionaire political donors Charles and David Koch. Ted Cruz was dispatched to campaign for Estes.

Estes swept the western counties in the 4th District's special election Tuesday, claiming an overall 53 percent over Democrat James Thompson's 46 percent and Libertarian Chris Rockhold's 2 percent.

The only time since at least 1993 that a candidate - Democrat or Republican - has outperformed their party this early in the two-year election cycle was following Obama's re-election victory, in the special election to replace Rep. "That we were going to lose a Republican seat, that it was a special election, that it was a chance for the Democrats, they were motivated, there was a lot of angst against the president".

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