Cruz: Close House race in Kansas 'a warning sign'

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After Tuesday night's 4th District win for Republican Ron Estes, some are taking a closer look at the numbers.

Republicans, who hold a 237-193 majority, will be defending seats in special elections in Georgia, South Carolina and Montana, where Donald Trump Jr.is planning to campaign for a GOP candidate next week.

You could argue, then, that the squeaker in Kansas's 4 Congressional District is not a sign of things to come in 2018. Ted Cruz was dispatched to campaign for Estes. The outlet blared the headline: "A Special Election In Kansas Could Signal "Big League" Problems For GOP, Trump".

GOP strategists warned in recent days that Democrat James Thompson, a civil rights attorney, was in striking distance against Estes, a Wichita Republican and the state treasurer, in the special election to replace Mike Pompeo.

That's a relatively small margin in Kansas' right-leaning 4th district, which Trump won by 27 points and Pompeo won by more than 30 points in November.

Furthermore, of the 48 seats in the U.S. Senate that Democrats now control, including the two independents who caucus with Democrats, only 10 of them are from states that Trump won in 2016.

"Republicans nationally should be very anxious", said Bob Beatty, a Washburn University political scientist. Thompson portrayed Estes, the state's treasurer, as a close Brownback ally even though the governor never publicly endorsed Estes.

The special election was held to replace Mike Pompeo, who was named as President Donald Trump's Central Intelligence Agency director after serving the Fourth District since 2010. Others are in Georgia, Montana and SC.

But Lake said the Kansas race shows more broadly how Republicans running textbook campaigns in seemingly safe districts have good reason to be antsy. Four years later, those voters responded to Trump's message, delivering him a narrow victory in that district.

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On Tuesday, Trump tweeted: "Ron Estes is running TODAY for Congress in the Great State of Kansas". Brownback also refused to expand the Medicaid health program for the poor.

"You have to let these races unfold in their unique milieu and not turn it into a partisan proxy war", Russell said.

"I believe that after tonight, the KS Republican Party will be 32-0 in federal and statewide elections since nominating Sam Brownback for governor", Brownback's former chief of staff, David Kensinger, said in an email. "It's inherently reactive" when Republicans set the agenda, noted Mark Longabaugh, a top adviser for Sen.

Estes was a Republican elector in the 2016 presidential election, thus he was one of the 304 electoral votes that Donald Trump won. "I finally did. I realized this was important". If Democrats can seriously compete in this Kansas district, they can seriously compete nearly anywhere. The district has been hurt by the downturn in the agricultural economy and the loss of hundreds of well-paying, blue-collar jobs in aircraft manufacturing plants.

Pawnee County was the first to report its overall unofficial results, with 71 percent of the votes going to Estes.

A spokesman James Thompson says the first time candidate "shocked the entire country" Tuesday with his strong effort against Republican Ron Estes.

Unofficial final vote tallies show Estes scored a 7 percent victory over Thompson.

In an interview with the Washington Post last week, DNC chair Tom Perez said the party-which had initially denied a request from Thompson's campaign to help fund a mailer, then eventually sent $3,000-wouldn't be contributing any last-minute funds (they did eventually announce on Monday they'd be funding some late get-out-the-vote calls), noting that there are "thousands of elections every year", and "Can we invest in all of them?" Trump carried Kanas with 57 percent of the vote.

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