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Republicans survive election scare, win Kansas House seat

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House race in heavily GOP Kansas surprisingly competitive

A win is a win - and Republicans avoided the catastrophic outcome of losing in a congressional district where President Donald Trump won by 27 points last November.

Republican Ron Estes won a special election in the 4th Congressional District, beating Democratic civil-rights attorney James Thompson, the Associated Press projected. This reliably Republican district anchored by Wichita has an April 11 special election to pick a successor to Mike Pompeo, now Trump's Central Intelligence Agency director. "Trump won this district by nearly 30 points, and Pompeo never won less than 60 percent of the vote".

National Democratic support for Thompson was more understated, as the Democratic Party has been heavily focused on the contest for Georgia's Sixth Congressional District, where 30-year-old Jon Ossoff is running a competitive race for the seat vacated by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Chris Reeves, a Daily Kos member and Democratic National Committee member from Kansas, said a close race would bolster the party's hopes in other states.

Results in the race are unofficial until vote canvassing can take place in each county.

Still, Speaker Ryan expressed his congratulations to Estes on his victory. What you want to do is make sure you get the folks out to vote that are as many as possible.

While the Republican majority congress continues to push through its legislative agenda, one suburban congressional district in a Southern state is giving Democrats momentum for upcoming elections. But the 17-county congressional district has been battered by a slump in the farm economy and the loss of manufacturing jobs in the aircraft plants in Wichita.

In this March 23, 2017, photo, Democrat James Thompson, a candidate for Kansas' 4th Congressional District, speaks during a debate in Wichita, Kan.

The only time since at least 1993 that a candidate - Democrat or Republican - has outperformed their party this early in the two-year election cycle was following Obama's re-election victory, in the special election to replace Rep.

Fearing potential fallout, Republicans injected last-minute money to help Estes while Trump and Vice President Mike Pence recorded get-out-the-vote phone calls on the candidate's behalf.

But there were 150,000 more votes cast in the district in 2016 than this special election.

Thompson tapped into voter frustration after Brownback made Kansas a laboratory for sweeping tax cuts that left the state short of revenue and facing a budget crisis.

Since Bill Clinton won the White House in 1992, there have been seven House special elections before or during the first 100 days of a president's term.

Thompson added that Democrats are the party of working people and must fight every battle, no matter the odds and to fight for the party's values. Admittedly, Estes had several factors working against him - for one, he was the treasurer under the unpopular Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who is blamed for ruining the state's finances.

Trump tells callers in the recording that Estes "needs your vote and needs it badly".

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