Nar­row loss in re­li­ably red Kansas in­spires Democrats to fight harder

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY SETH MCLAUGHLIN

Repub­li­cans held onto a Kansas con­gres­sional seat in Tues­day’s spe­cial elec­tion, though the mar­gin was nar­row for the over­whelm­ingly GOP district, giv­ing Democrats hope head­ing into a more hotly con­tested race next week in Geor­gia.

Pro­gres­sive groups touted the loss as a win, say­ing the re­turns showed the strength of the “re­sis­tance” against Pres­i­dent Trump and gives them mo­men­tum with other elec­tions loom­ing.

Repub­li­cans, though, her­alded Repub­li­can Ron Estes’ 53 per­cent to 46 per­cent vic­tory over Demo­crat James Thompson in Kansas’ 4th Con­gres­sional District as proof that vot­ers con­tinue to sup­port the GOP agenda and Mr. Trump, who made last-minute ap­peals for votes both with robo­calls and on Twit­ter.

“Pres­i­dent Trump called on Kansans to send Ron Estes to Washington to help Repub­li­cans cut taxes and fix health care and tonight that’s ex­actly what they did,” said Ronna Rom­ney McDaniel, chair­woman of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee.

But lib­eral groups said the fact that the race was so close — Mr. Trump won the district by 27 per­cent­age points last year — shows vot­ers are tir­ing of the GOP, which now con­trols both houses of Congress as well as the White House.

“To fel­low grass-roots pro­gres­sives lead­ing the re­sis­tance in the streets, at town­halls, and at the doors, these results are proof that our move­ment can have a pro­found im­pact at the bal­lot box in the months ahead,” said Jim Dean, head of Democ­racy for Amer­ica. “If we can make Repub­li­cans go into full-on freak­out mode in a ruby-red Kansas con­gres­sional district now, we have the power to rip the gavel out of [House Speaker] Paul Ryan’s hands in Novem­ber 2018,” he said.

The Kansas seat was left va­cant when Rep. Mike Pom­peo re­signed to be­come Mr. Trump’s CIA di­rec­tor.

Repub­li­cans will hold a 238-193 seat edge over Democrats in the House af­ter Mr. Estes is sworn into of­fice.

The next bat­tle is Geor­gia’s 6th Con­gres­sional District, left open when Rep. Tom Price re­signed to be­come Mr. Trump’s health sec­re­tary. De­spite a large field of can­di­dates, Democrats have ral­lied to Jon Os­soff, who raised $8.3 mil­lion dur­ing the first quar­ter of the year and is lead­ing in the polls.

The Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee urged ac­tivists to rec­og­nize that Kansas showed Mr. Os­soff can win next week.

“Trump only won this district by 1 per­cent,” the group said in an email blast. “A Repub­li­can loss here would send a bit­ter re­buke to Trump that shows Repub­li­cans across the coun­try that Amer­i­cans do not sup­port Trump’s agenda.”

The Kansas race had per­co­lated un­der the radar for weeks, but tighterthan-ex­pected polling prompted a last­minute flurry of ac­tiv­ity as Mr. Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence recorded robo­calls, and Sen. Ted Cruz came to cam­paign for Mr. Estes. The Na­tional Repub­li­can Com­mit­tee in­vested close to $100,000 into tele­vi­sion ads ding­ing Mr. Thompson, the Demo­crat, over his record on abor­tion.

On the Demo­cratic side, some lib­er­als felt they didn’t get enough sup­port from their own party or­ga­ni­za­tions in Washington.

“To the Washington Demo­cratic in­sid­ers who wrote this race off be­fore it be­gan, it’s time to wake up and re­al­ize that the grass-roots ex­pects this re­sis­tance ef­fort to be waged un­flinch­ingly in every sin­gle county and every sin­gle state across the coun­try,” Mr. Dean said. “While Don­ald Trump is threat­en­ing the safety of marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties, Democrats need to quit the dither­ing and en­sure that Trump and his Con­gres­sional en­ablers feel po­lit­i­cally un­safe in every cor­ner of the coun­try.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can Ron Estes won nar­rowly in a spe­cial elec­tion in Kansas’ 4th district on Tues­day. The spe­cial elec­tion was held to fill the seat va­cated by CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo. Democrats are say­ing that the nar­row vic­tory is a sign of back­lash against the GOP.

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