Leftist organizations in Wichita hosted a forum for candidates vying to replace Mike Pompeo in the U.S. Congress. The Democratic candidate and the Libertarian candidate attended, but State Treasurer Ron Estes, the Republican candidate, did not.
Estes never agreed to attend the event, hosted by Women for Kansas and the League of Kansas voters. However, Democrat James Thompson’s Facebook page suggested Estes “broke his commitment to speak” at the forum.
Estes’ campaign spokesman Rodger Woods said Estes would be in meetings related to his role as Kansas State Treasurer on the night of the debate.
In a campaign email, Woods said the event organizers continued to post notices featuring Estes’ photo despite knowing the state treasurer would be unable to attend.
“Believe it or not, yesterday Ron’s opponent concocted a story about Republican activists being bused in from outside the district to attend the event. Today, they are claiming that Ron committed to the debate, but has now pulled out,” the email reads. “There were no buses, and Ron never agreed to attend their event.”
Organizers, however, made certain to leave an empty seat on stage during the forum. Kansas Republican Party Executive Director Clay Barker called it “political theater.”
Kelly Arnold, Kansas GOP Chair, called the event a “desperate attempt to create fake news.”
Voters in the Kansas Fourth Congressional District head to the polls on April 11. Advance voting starts next week.