Republicans have reason to be nervous after close Kansas race

Close results in the special House election to replace former Kansas Republican representative and current Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo should serve as "a warning sign" to the GOP, Sen. On Monday, Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of SC, who shouted "You Lie!" at President Barack Obama during a 2009 health care speech, heard chants of the same phrase at a town hall from constituents angry about health care and his voting record on violence against women. While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a phone campaign to reach 25,000 households on the day before the election, the committee did not devote other financial resources, the Kansas City Star reported. Approval was at a seven-year high in February after Trump's presidential inauguration, Gallup notes, adding that the April drop "was driven mainly by a loss of support among Republicans, whose approval fell from 50% two months ago to 31% in April".

The race attracted nearly no national support from the Democratic Party.

"Republican Ron Estes needs your vote and needs it badly", Trump said in his minute-long call. He says he wants to see if the GOP "can get something done" with Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate. Only 220 eligible voters in Pawnee County lived in that congressional district and 28 percent voted. A Democrat hasn't represented the district since Dan Glickman was ousted in the 1994 Republican wave election. Ted Cruz. Cruz, who won the state in the 2016 Republican primaries, introduced Estes at a rally and called on district residents to turn out to vote for the Republican. Estes raised $312,000 to Thompson's $254,000 as of late March. On Tuesday, in the first national test of the Republican Party's electoral strength since November, Estes claimed the seat in the Wichita-area district by a mere 7 points.

- Only one Democratic-held district gave Trump more of its vote - (Minnesota Rep. Collin C. Peterson's district, which gave Trump 62 percent).

The narrative, however, was upended by polling in the race's final days which showed Estes' lead to be in the single-digits.

A win is a win - and Republicans avoided the catastrophic outcome of losing in a congressional district where President Donald Trump won by 27 points last November.

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

"Ron has been deeply involved in his community for years and I'm confident he will be a strong voice for Kansas' 4th Congressional District in Washington, D.C.", House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement congratulating the GOP candidate. That precipitated a flood of national GOP campaign activity to save the seat. "But we really showed the pundits tonight, didn't we?"

In a speech to supporters in Wichita, Thompson vowed that he would run for the seat again in 2018 and argued that the result was evidence that no Republican district is safe.

"When they think about choices, they tend to think big choices: change versus status quo", Rothenberg said.

  • Leroy Wright