Published: Mon, April 17, 2017
U.S. | By Rene Hicks

6th Congressional District race takes center stage

In last night's special election in Kansas's 4th congressional district - a deeply red region - the Republican candidate, Ron Estes, eked out a victory over Democrat James Thompson to claim Mike Pompeo's seat, which the former representative vacated to head up the Central Intelligence Agency under President Donald Trump.

When a candidate wins, as Republican Ron Estes did in the special election Tuesday for the 4th Congressional District seat, he has the opportunity to sound gracious, to unify disparate constituencies.

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff raised an astounding $8.3 million in the first quarter of 2017, just a few weeks before the April 18 vote. By contrast, Pompeo won re-election in November by 31 percentage points and 85,000 votes.

Estes claimed that the close election was proof that no Republican seat is safe, and vowed to campaign to retain his seat in 2018. Last November, Trump carried the district by 30 points.

But liberal groups said the fact that the race was so close - Mr. Trump won the district by 27 percentage points previous year - shows voters are tiring of the GOP, which now controls both houses of Congress as well as the White House. They chose the state treasurer, Ron Estes, a Republican, over James Thompson, a Democrat and a civil rights lawyer. Ted Cruz appeared with him at a campaign rally in Wichita on Monday. If Democrats can seriously compete in this Kansas district, they can seriously compete nearly anywhere. Both Estes and Thompson had major get-out-the vote drives.

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And Trump helped solidify the victory by campaigning from afar. "For sure, I will have rural support", she said she thought. And President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both recorded robocalls for the Republican candidate. "A wonderful guy, I need his help on Healthcare & Tax Cuts (Reform)", Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

Especially in a special election, most voters aren't paying much attention to the candidates when they go to vote, said Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan elections analyst and columnist at The Washington Post.

To be sure, a special election is just that - an isolated contest held on a day in which voters are not typically accustomed to voting.

Trump says "Ron Estes is running TODAY for Congress in the Great State of Kansas".

The southern Kansas district, dominated by Wichita and its suburbs, has been represented by Republicans since the 1994 wave election that gave the party control of the House of Representatives for the first time since the 1950s. And national Democrats' refusal to spend money helping Thompson meant the race flew under the radar - which some Democrats argued could have left Republican voters feeling no sense of urgency to turn out to vote. And after crunching Dave Wasserman's numbers, The Washington Examiner similarly concluded that "if turnout across all 435 districts followed this same pattern of partisan participation, then Democrats would win a 314-seat majority in the 435-seat House of Representatives next year".

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