Without the help of a severely wounded Democratic Party, there's a real risk Republicans could lose the Fourth Congressional District. So hug a Democrat today, and thank them.
Here's the quick state of the race down in Wichita between a guy who spent $250 of campaign money on a razor # 2 haircut (ahem. James Thompson) and Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes:
1. It looked really, really bad until late last week. As of close of business on Thursday, April 6, Democrats had a 464 lead in advanced ballot requests. That was trending in the right direction at the close of last week, but there's no excuse for a gap in the left direction.
2. At close of day on April 6, Democrats had a three ballot lead in advanced ballots returned.
3. While polls made public look good for the Estes campaign, every poll I've seen printed shows the Estes campaign moving in the wrong direction. Those polls still show a sizable Estes lead, but that lead continues to shrink. And let's chat a second about undisclosed polls: One such undisclosed poll (from a few weeks ago) showed Estes has only a 1 percent lead among likely voters who could name the day of the special election!
THE ELECTION IS APRIL 11, FYI.
3. The lone bright spot for Republicans in this messy election is registered Republican advanced in-person voters out-voted Democrats by more than 1,300 as of April 6.
That cushion isn't enough for me to feel comfortable, and it appears Democrats smell blood in the water. Their base is clearly a LOT more energized than ours, and in a special election, that could be the difference. Fortunately, the Democrats seem incapable of capitalizing on that advantage.
The Dems' troubles started the second Democratic delegates selected James A. Thompson as their standard bearer. Thompson hails from the Bernie segment of the party, also known as the socialist wing. Dems had other options. I was actually afraid of Dennis McKinney, a former state treasurer who is pro-life. (Wichita is perhaps the most pro-life part of a very pro-life state.) But party insiders voted for the Bernie guy who was instantly and loudly endorsed by Planned Parenthood. (These are the same folks disrupting town halls across the nation, screaming and wearing genital costumes on their heads, so you know, kind of not Kansas-like at all, so...)
And then Dems began campaigning. So far, it appears their campaign efforts involve attending every forum hosted by the League of Women voters and other leftist organizations and then complaining that Estes didn't show up, vandalizing signs, and vandalizing the Estes campaign office. Oh, and then complaining about a commercial that factually reveals Thompson supports abortion on demand for any reason.
The state party and the Thompson campaign publicly exchanged barbs after the Kansas Democratic Party refused to give the campaign $20,000. The state party admitted it didn't have the money! They said that out loud!
It's odd that the Thompson campaign requested $20,000 for mailers rather than the party sending mailers on behalf of the campaign. It costs less for the party to mail than it does for the campaign. So strange.
And I just want to reiterate, this is a campaign that spent $250 on a haircut. (I don't even... for context, I have unusual hair. I get it colored, cut, and styled every six weeks at a mid-priced salon. I pay $120. That's with tip!! Sometimes I add on the $40 blow dry. If someone charged Thompson $40 for a blow out, he should demand a refund. It's ridiculous, and it gives a great indication of how careful the candidate is with other people's money!! When your advertising dollars are in short supply, you don't blow a few hundies on a haircut! How frivolous.)
Meanwhile, the national Democratic party is sitting on the sidelines.
Estes is likely to win this race, but it isn't because the Republicans ran a great campaign. I'm watching from other end of the state, so caveat emptor. From here, it looks a bit dismal. Trump won the Fourth Congressional District by 27 points. It is the most conservative district in red Kansas by a long, long way. And for that reason, I think Estes pulls it out. However, unless he can snatch a double-digit victory from the jaws of defeat, he's looking at a nasty, virulent primary in 2018. He'll have to campaign better next time, or his Congressional efforts will be short-lived.
Estes was always going to face a primary in 2018, but without a big win tomorrow, he'll face a crowded and vicious one. The only person I hear running in 2018 is Susan Wagle. I put her chances at success at near zero percent, but she won't be alone in that race. Starting April 12, Estes should watch his back.
When Estes pulls out this win tomorrow, we probably ought to thank Democrats for being so inept. This was theirs to lose, and it appears they'll do just that. Thanks!