In a very close Kansas special election to fill the US House of Representatives seat of Mike Pompeo, who’s now trying to explain CIA stuff to Donald Trump in very small words, Wichita civil rights lawyer James Thompson lost to Republican state Treasurer Ron Estes. Estes was expected to win the very red district without breaking a sweat, since it’s been Republican for decades and Donald Trump won there in November by 27 points. Instead, it was what passes for a squeaker in Kansas, with Estes winning by a margin of 53 percent to 46 percent.
Or, if you’re a Republican, the plucky conservative appealed to traditional Kansas values to crush an opponent for whom the biased media had already held a coronation ceremony. At least that’s what you’d have to assume from Estes’s Trumpian victory speech, which presented a close election in what should have been a safe district as if it were some kind of improbable come-from behind victory:
inarticulate big league robocall by Donald Trump himself who promised that if voters chose Estes, “We’re going to do things really great for our country.” At the very least, Estes won pretty narrowly, with a seven-point victory in the district his predecessor, Pompeo, had taken by 31 points in November.
“The pundits were talking about — this wasn’t a seat we were going to win,” Mr. Estes said before several hundred people in a hotel ballroom, “that we were going to lose a Republican seat, that it was a special election, that it was a chance for the Democrats, they were motivated, there was a lot of angst against the president. But we really showed the pundits tonight, didn’t we?”
“We’re going to continue that process that started in November and make the changes in Washington,” he added.
The President of the United States, of course, tweeted something incredibly stupid about the outcome:
So, yeah: Estes barely won in a district that should have been a cakewalk, where Republicans have a 2-to-1 registration advantage, the Dems barely spent anything, and virtually everyone called Thompson a promising long shot at best.
So Democrats only came within seven points of pulling off a huge upset, which in Republican land means the pattern has been set for all the other seats where special elections are needed to replace Republicans elevated to the Trump administration.
Thompson wasn’t feeling particularly crushed by the close loss, considering the panicky last-minute surge of outside money and support from top Republicans, including robocalls by Trump and Mike Pence, a visit from Ted Cruz, a buttload of superPAC money, and an attack ad portraying Thompson as wanting Hillary Clinton to personally abort babies in Benghazi for the purpose of sex selection.
“Mr. Estes did not beat us,” Mr. Thompson told supporters after the race was called. “It took a president of the United States, the vice president, the speaker of the House, a senator coming into our state and a bunch of lies to drum up a vote.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) only got involved in Thompson’s race Monday (yes, the day before the election), announcing it would provide get-out-the vote calls. Nice move, guys! Just think if you’d actually spent some money and effort on the campaign before the last minute!
Democrats are hoping the surprisingly close race in red-red-red Kansas bodes well for next Tuesday’s race for the Georgia seat vacated by Tom Price, who was appointed secretary of Dismantling Medicare by Trump. Price’s district went for Trump, too, but only by a few points, and lots and lots of money has been coming in for Democrat Jon Ossoff, to whom you should donate even if it means his campaign will send you three emails a day (seriously guys. Overkill). Hell, even the DCCC has been spending money on Ossoff, which, AHEM, they could also be doing in the Montana campaign to replace Secretary of Coal Ryan Zinke, where Rob Quist has a hell of a chance, and have you sent him a donation yet? (Yr Dok Zoom did, even though I was on vacation! They sent a nice postcard!)
Stay alert and involved, Dems. After Georgia next week and Montana on May 25, there’s still one more House seat to chase after, Mick Nulvaney’s seat in South Carolina. Another very red district, but like everywhere else, with a contingent of motivated, very pissed off Dems who would like to see some national support. Yes, DCCC, that’s us clearing our throats and looking at you. Do your job.
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