Estes wins congressional seat in hard-fought election

Democrat James Thompson a candidate for Kansas 4th Congressional District speaks during a debate in Wichita Kan. President Donald Trump stepped into a surprisingly competitive special congressional election in Kansas Mo

The race had been closely watched nationally for signs of a backlash against Republicans or waning support from Trump voters in a reliably GOP district.

Kansas 4th District congressional candidate Ron Estes, right, and Sen. Ted Cruz was dispatched to campaign for Estes. Runoffs are required in Georgia elections if no candidate receives a majority of the vote.

Republican Ron Estes will be the next Congressman from Kansas following his victory Tuesday in a special election for the fourth district.

On Tuesday, Republican Ron Estes overcame an unexpectedly tough challenge from civil rights attorney James Thompson (D) in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Mike Pompeo, Trump's new Central Intelligence Agency director. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was supported nearly entirely by individual small-dollar donors, while Estes had to lean on 11th-hour support from Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and a massive ad buy from the National Republican Congressional Committee to survive the race.

Thompson was not supposed to come this close to winning in a district where Trump and Pompeo both won by about 30 percentage points last November, said Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas.

"Republicans nationally should be very anxious", Bob Beatty, a Washburn University political scientist, told the AP.

Thompson's strength headed into the final days of the Kansas special election stunned Republicans and forced national GOP officials to make a major, last-minute effort to help their nominee. Others are in Georgia, Montana and SC.

Next up is the April 18 jungle primary in Georgia's 6 Congressional District to fill the seat once occupied by Republican Tom Price, who is now Secretary of Health of Human Services.

The last time I recall the press being so excited about losing a special-election congressional race in a perceived safe GOP district, Republican Jean Schmidt defeated Paul Hackett in Ohio's Second District by 3.3 points in 2005.

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But Thompson benefited from Trump's low approval ratings, a deeply unpopular Republican governor and a state GOP that has been hampered by infighting. His opponent, James Thompson, was a relative nobody and dramatically underfunded by comparison - $100,000 was spent on ads by the Republican Party in the state, while the Democratic Party declined to spend even just $20,000 on campaign mailers.

In the run-up to election day, Republican strategists dumped on Estes campaign.

"I can't stand Brownback", she said as she left her polling site in Belle Plaine. "I realized this was important". A Democrat hasn't represented the district since Dan Glickman was ousted in the 1994 Republican wave election. 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.

After Tuesday night's 4th District win for Republican Ron Estes, some are taking a closer look at the numbers. But Thompson won in Sedgwick County, which includes Wichita.

Kiowa County voters gave Estes 80 percent of the vote and Edwards County voters, 78 percent.

According to the Huffington Post, much of the credit goes to Build the Bench, a program created by Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos to train candidates to win local races in IL.

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.

It's also unlikely that Georgia Republicans will surpass former Rep.

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