The National Republican Congressional Campaign is pouring last-minute money into the special election to replace former Congressman Mike Pompeo. Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes, a Republican, faces Democrat James Thompson, a civil rights attorney.
Republicans have every reason to be confident that Estes will be victorious on Tuesday night. President Donald Trump won the deep red district by 27 points last November. However, the executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, Clayton Barker said the short timelines, limited fundraising, no previous races to premise an election plan and unpredictable turnouts make special elections unique.
“There are more pro-Estes voters in the district, but the Democrats are more energized–driven by Trump-hate and still in a state of shocked disbelief at losing in November,” Barker said.
That may be the reason for a recent injection of cash and effort in the Congressional Fourth District.
Earlier this week, the National Republican Congressional Committee bought nearly $100,000 in television and digital advertising in the countdown to the April 11 election, and earlier today, the Estes campaign announced that Sen. Ted Cruz will be in Wichita on Monday, April 10, to rally voters.
Media outlets’ read of the tea leaves suggest that Republicans are worried about the Kansas race.
“So maybe GOPers are just getting jumpy, or maybe they are seeing something in Kansas and elsewhere in their own ranks that suggests underwhelming turnout,” the New York Magazine theorizes. The Hill headlined a story suggesting “Republicans suddenly sweating election in deep red Kansas.” The Washington Examiner called robocalls recorded by Vice President Mike Pence in support of Estes “a clear sign of concern that the Democrats could flip this solid GOP seat.”
However, Barker said the election plan always included a surge in efforts during the last week to drive voter turnout.
“That last piece of the plan is what the media are seeing now,” Barker said.
Advanced voting trends weren’t as encouraging as usual. Prior to the end of business on April 5, advanced ballots requested by Democrats outnumbered those returned by 610. That number shrank the following day, however. At the close of business on April 6, the Democrat advantage dropped to 464.
Democrats enjoy a three-ballot lead in the number of advanced ballots returned. However, in-person, advanced voting appears to favor the GOP. At the end of Thursday, 1,357 more registered Republicans had voted in person than registered Democrats.
In the final lead up to the April 11 election, voters in the Fourth Congressional District can expect to see more mailers and more television commercials as well as receive phone calls and visits from the campaigns.
“There is only one race, so you do not get the awareness of multiple mailings ads, signs,” Barker said. “On the other hand, with only one race, voters are much more likely to read mailers, listen to calls and answer polls.”