First Congressional Race in Trump Era Takes Shape in America’s Heartland

      On February 10th, Republicans and Democrats in Kansas’s fourth congressional district, which encompasses the city of Wichita, held their conventions for local party leaders to select their respective nominees for the upcoming special election. The seat was vacated when Congressman Mike Pompeo was appointed Director of the Central Intelligence Agency by President Trump.  The seat is expected to remain in Republican control as President Trump won the district with 60% of the vote. A Democrat has not been elected to congress since the Clinton administration Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman lost reelection in the Newt Gingrich-Republican wave of 1994.  However, the race will hold the distinction of being the first congressional election since President Donald J. Trump took office on January 20th.
       On the Republican side, Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes was named the nominee on the second ballot in a crowded field that included Trump’s presidential campaign advisor Alan Cobb and former Congressman Todd Tiahrt. Estes has served as State Treasurer since 2010, and in 2014 received the largest majority of the vote (67.5%) of any statewide candidate in Kansas, including the incumbent governor and senator. He also served as a member of the electoral college in 2016, casting one of the state’s six electoral votes in favor of President Trump.  He also shares many policy priorities with the administration, such as border     security and regulatory reform.
       On the Democrats’ side, civil rights attorney James Thompson narrowly upset former State Senator and ex-State Treasurer Dennis McKinney, who was defeated by Estes for the position in 2010, for the nomination.  While he has voiced optimism about his chances, he enters the race with a significant disadvantage in terms of party affiliation, fundraising, and name recognition.
      The general election will be held on April 11th.

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