House race in heavily GOP Kansas surprisingly competitive

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.

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.

The seat was won by Republican Ron Estes, state treasurer of Kansas, by just 6 percentage points-far lower than the 30 percentage points by which Pompeo beat Democrat opponents in the past.

The last time I recall the press being so excited about losing a special-election congressional race in a perceived safe GOP district, Republican Jean Schmidt defeated Paul Hackett in Ohio's Second District by 3.3 points in 2005.

Republican Ron Estes won the election by only a seven-point margin after Pompeo's margin of victory in the fall was 31 points.

Estes supported Trump in 2016 and backs a number of the president's policies, including repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, defunding Planned Parenthood, and building a wall along the border with Mexico. 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. Former Congressman Mike Pompeo, who vacated the seat in 2017 to run the Central Intelligence Agency under the Trump administration, won the congressional seat in 2016 with 61% of the vote. Mulvaney won re-election by a comfortable 20 points over Democrat Fran Person in November.

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Two Republicans strategists familiar with polling data in two of the special election races say the main problem is not that independents and moderate voters have swung en masse to Democrats.

Republican Mike Estes beat Democrat James Thompson by almost seven points in the special election in Kansas' 4th Congressional district, which has a Cook index of R+15 and which Donald Trump won by 27 points last November.

Trump recorded an automated call urging voters that Estes needs the votes "badly" in the "very important special election". Estes won with 53 percent of the vote after the Republican Party funded a series of anti-choice attack ads against Thompson. However, others pointed to unpopular Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as the real drag on Estes' performance. The results of a recent Morning Consult survey shows Brownback as one of the least-popular governors in the country - coming in a close second to New Jersey governor Chris Christie - with just over a quarter of Kansas citizens approving of him.

Readers of the liberal blog Daily Kos also were jumping into the race, donating more than $200,000 to Thompson in the final days. Ted Cruz (R-TX), to campaign on behalf of Estes in the district on the day before the campaign. Vice President Mike Pence also recorded a similar call.

Be Civil - It's OK to have a difference in opinion but there's no need to be a jerk. "And we knew they would show up, and they did show up".

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