Kansas congressional race first in nation since Trump's win

The Estes campaign announced that Cruz would appear with the candidate during a Monday afternoon rally at Yingling Aviation. The district has not been on the radar of most national groups and activists, which have focused on the upcoming special election in Georgia as a more competitive opportunity.

In a race drawing national attention to what is usually a safe Republican district, Estes, the state treasurer, is locked in a surprisingly hard-fought battle with Thompson, a civil rights attorney.

Trump says "Ron Estes is running TODAY for Congress in the Great State of Kansas. A wonderful guy, I need his help on Healthcare & Tax Cuts (Reform)", Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. Trump easily won with 60 percent of the votes cast in the 17-county congressional district of south-central Kansas.

"President Trump won this traditionally red district by 27 points just a few short months ago, so the fact that the NRCC is panicking now confirms how strong the headwinds are that Republicans face across the country", DCCC Spokesman Tyler Law wrote. And it's not much better among his own party, with only 34 percent of registered Republicans giving him a thumbs up.

"The story got overblown from what it was, we're completely backing Thompson", said Kerry Gooch, executive director of Kansas Democrats. "I finally did. I realized this was important".

Republicans acknowledge that this race is closer than it once was, which they chalk up to the unpredictability of a low-turnout special election driven by the bases of both parties.

Republicans - sensing the bad message even a neck-and-neck race would send as the party recruits House candidates and tries to shepherd conservative legislation to passage on Capitol Hill - are trying to make sure Estes is elected comfortably.

The same November election that handed Trump the state's electoral votes also ousted two dozen of Brownback's allies in the state Legislature, including flipping 13 seats to Democrats.

"My being here is indicative that I think this race matters, this race matters and it matters nationally", said Sen. Though the election is just a few days away, we can still help Thompson expand his field program and media buys.

"We have the first chance in the country to make a statement about what we stand for".

"You've got to really be careful about over-learning any lessons from one race in a particular congressional district", Loomis said.

The robocall from Trump came as the contest also pulled U.S. Sen. "Among the political action committees contributing more than $93,000 to Estes' campaign are groups tied to Koch Industries and to various conservative political organizations", noted the paper.

Around 23,000 people have already voted ahead of Tuesday's special election.

A civil rights attorney who has brought lawsuits on behalf of people shot by police, Thompson favors legalizing marijuana and has said he chose to run for Congress because of Vermont Sen. Thompson, is spending the final day of campaigning before Tuesday's election talking directly to voters. The district has been hard hit by the downturn in the agricultural economy and where battered aircraft manufacturing plants have shed hundreds of well-paying, blue-collar jobs.

Trump's administration picks and a California Democratic appointment have created five openings in the U.S. House, where Republicans have a 237-193 edge.

The investment comes as more election handicappers like Cook Political Report move the race to fill the 6th District seat left vacant by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price from "lean Republican" to the "tossup" category.

  • Larry Hoffman