Republicans survive election scare, narrowly win Kansas seat

Republican Ron Estes beat back a surprisingly strong challenge from an unheralded and underfunded Democratic challenger to claim a special election victory in Kansas' 4th district on Tuesday night.

The margin of victory Tuesday for Kansas Republican Ron Estes in the 4th District special election slid to only seven percentage points from a 31-point margin in November, when incumbent Mike Pompeo was running before he was appointed Trump's Central Intelligence Agency director.

Trump won 60 percent of the votes cast in the 17-county congressional district. Mike Pompeo (R) past year, and Thompson won 68 percent as many votes as the Democrat who lost to him.

The next electoral test will be in the Atlanta suburbs, where Democrats are spending heavily to elect Jon Ossoff to the seat vacated by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.

In Cowley County, Estes received 3,179 votes or 56 percent of the vote to 2,422 votes or 43 percent for Thompson.

Kansas 4th District congressional candidate Ron Estes, right, and Sen.

Following Georgia's primary, SC will hold a primary on May 2 for a special election on June 20.

National Democratic Party committees also spent nothing on Thompson's behalf despite the closeness of the race in its final week - a strategy not likely to be repeated either. Unlike Pompeo's district, Trump barely won in the Georgia 6th district and the main Democratic candidate is much better-funded than Thompson was.

Campaign manager Colin Curtis said at the time that state Democrats had the opportunity to win the district for the first time in 23 years but that it felt like a lot of the current establishment of the party was "sitting on the sidelines".

However, the close margin in Tuesday's race could hamper Republican efforts to recruit candidates, according to Patrick Miller, a political science professor at the University of Kansas.

In an extraordinary political quake, Kansas Republicans held on to a dark red House seat in the Wichita area night by just a single-digit margin on Tuesday night, throwing into question whether the GOP's majority can survive next year's midterm elections.

"I wanted to run in 2018 one way or the other", he said.

In the last three congressional elections, Democratic challengers attracted only about 30 percent of the vote against Mike Pompeo.

But Lake said the Kansas race shows more broadly how Republicans running textbook campaigns in seemingly safe districts have good reason to be antsy. Senator Ted Cruz flew in to stump for Estes and both Vice-President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump recorded robocalls urging his election. Specifically, this election was a window into how voters in this deep-red congressional district feel about Trump and Republicans' leadership right now.

Trump himself triggered the special election by naming then-Rep.

Democrat James Thompson, left, lost to Republican Ron Estes. And the GOP has struggled to put away a trio of special election House races in districts where it won easily just last November. Second, the state's Republican governor, Sam Brownback, is highly unpopular in state and Thompson campaigned hard on a anti-Brownback narrative. "Ron is going to be helping us, big league".

Libertarian Gary Johnson received more than 55,000 votes in Kansas (4.7 percent) when he ran for president last fall. With a fractured, 11-candidate Republican field, Democrats hope Ossoff can cross the 50% threshold and avoid a June one-on-one runoff with the leading GOP candidate. But he also said he didn't vote for Trump in the presidential election because he doesn't "believe in the party line".

  • Larry Hoffman