The Kansas special election was a test for party leadership. Everyone failed

Tuesday's vote in Kansas is the first of several special elections this year that will fill congressional seats vacated by Trump appointments.

The GOP held on to its Kansas 4th Congressional District seat after Republican Ron Estes narrowly defeated Democrat James Thompson, signaling a dramatic shift in a race expected to be a landslide Republican victory.

Estes took all but one county (Sedgwick, whose county seat is Wichita, which Thompson took by fewer than 1,900 votes), and won by 6.8 percent 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. Democrats control the state legislature, both its Senate seats, and 11 of its 18 congressional districts, and the state has not voted for a Republican for president in almost 30 years.

He added that the committee also had to be realistic in its assessment of the race, which many party strategists deemed unwinnable even with an energized Democratic base.

Lucy Jones-Phillips, a 31-year-old insurance representative and Democrat, acknowledged she doesn't vote in every election, but said she voted for Thompson because she wanted to ensure supporters of Gov. Sam Brownback are not in office.

The president also recorded a robocall and tweeted his support for Estes on Tuesday. The Republican Congressional Campaign Committee dumped $130,000 into the race. Democrat Xavier Becerra left the House in 2016 and successfully ran for California State Attorney General, leaving the 34th district open. "For sure, I will have rural support", she said she thought. In a victory speech, Estes told voters he'd "repeal and replace Obamacare" and fight for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. Former Republican congressman Mike Pompeo, whose elevation to the directorship of the Central Intelligence Agency created this special election, regularly won KS-04 by 30 points.

After Kansas Democrats came close Tuesday to winning a special election in an otherwise solidly conservative U.S. House district, their S.C. counterparts are hopeful they can pull off an upset in the Palmetto State's 5th District.

Much of the money that would have normally gone into the Kansas race has been diverted to the special election in Georgia's sixth district, where Democrat Jon Ossoff is now favored in a historically Republican-safe suburb of Atlanta. The state's jungle primary happened April 4 and two Democrats, Robert Lee Ahn and Jimmy Gomez, were the top vote getters. We will have to beat them. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, flew in for an appearance Monday in Wichita.

"Certainly Estes is not helped by [Republican Governor Sam] Brownback", Loomis said, referring to the Kansas governor who recently vetoed Medicaid expansion that would have given health care to 150,000 people in the state.

The results suggest Democrats can't be counted out, even in Kansas - a solid Republican state - and can mount challenges that have realistic chances of producing a win. "People were writing us off the whole time", he said.

"This should be a wakeup call to the administration and the Republican Congress", the lawmaker said.

  • Julie Sanders