Estes wins special election for Kansas' 4th Congressional District

Published: Apr. 11, 2017 at 1:20 PM CDT
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It was a close race, but Republican Ron Estes prevails in the special election to represent Kansas' Fourth Congressional District. Estes will replace Mike Pompeo, who in January, was sworn in as the country's new CIA Director.

With 100 percent of Kansas' Fourth District precincts reporting, final results showed Estes defeating Democrat James Thompson by eight percent, 53 to 45. The percentages showed a difference of about 8,500 votes. Libertarian Chris Rockhold received 1,971 votes, which amounted to 2 percent.

WATCH LIVE: Ron Estes is expected to speak shortly. He has been declared the winner of tonight's election for the 4th congressional district.

Posted by KWCH 12 Eyewitness News on Tuesday, April 11, 2017

In his victory speech in Wichita, Estes says he never had a goal of becoming a Congressman, but saw that what was coming out of Washington, D.C. was not helping Kansans.

"We need to change that. We need to make America work for us," Estes says.

Estes says he will be an advocate for a balanced budget amendment and for the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

He says relieving burdens from regulations and tax reform are also needs he plans to address.

"For far too long, Washington hasn't worked for us. And we need to change that," Estes says.

Although he lost, Thompson says the special election shows that no Republican seat is safe and he plans to run for Congress again in 2018.

Many of Thompson's voters thought Sedgwick County would carry him to a victory, but in the end it wasn't enough. The rural counties heavily favored Estes.

Thompson arrived to his watch party a little after the race was called for Estes. The somber mood lifted when he announced his candidacy to run for Congress when the seat comes up for election again.

Asked what he plans to do differently the next time he runs, Thompson said it's all about having more time. Since this was a special election, he said he didn't have as much time as he would have liked to connect with voters.

You can follow how Tuesday's special election progressed through the updates below:

9:43 p.m.

The Associated Press calls the Fourth Congressional District special election for Ron Estes. Estes, Kansas' state treasurer will head to Washington to replace Mike Pompeo in the U.S. House of Representatives.


9:35 p.m.

With 186 of 257 precincts reporting, Thompson holds a slight edge in Sedgwick County, but trails Estes overall. Thompson has 52 percent of the vote in Sedgwick County, but now with more than 500 of 620 total precincts in the Fourth District reporting, Estes maintains his 6-percent lead over Thompson, 52 percent to 46 percent.


9:30 p.m.

Sixteen of 17 counties represented in the Fourth Congressional District have reported with rural areas primarily showing support for Estes. Of the 157 precincts yet to be reported, 156 are in Sedgwick County. Estes maintains his overall lead over Thompson, 52 percent to 46 percent.


9:22 p.m.

One of two voting machines at Wichita's Reformation Lutheran Church was not shut down properly, meaning more votes will need recounted and final results may be delayed. With 481 of 620 total precincts reporting, Estes leads Thompson by about 6 percent.


9:20 p.m.

With 455 of 620 total precincts reporting, Estes leads James Thompson by nearly 5,000 votes, 43,785 to 38,928.


9:10 p.m.

Estes is the projected winner in Harper County with 72 percent of the vote to 26 percent for Thompson. Now with 388 of 620 precincts reporting, Estes leads by about 2,500 votes. Thompson still holds a slight edge in Sedgwick County with about 52 percent of the vote. In Sedgwick County, 127 of 257 precincts have reported.


9 p.m.

Estes takes Stafford County with a projected winning margin of 73 percent to 26 percent over Thompson. The latest results from Sedgwick County show Thompson with a lead of 54 percent to 43 percent for Estes. Overall, Estes leads Thompson by about 2,000 votes, a 51 percent to 48 percent lead district-wide. Estes is aided in large part by key wins in Cowley and Butler counties.


8:50 p.m.

Estes is slowly expanding his overall lead over Thompson. With 334 of 620 total precincts reporting, the Republican leads by about 1,000 votes.


8:45 p.m.

Estes has taken the lead in the special election. He is the unofficial winner in Kingman County with 71 percent of the vote to 29 percent for Thompson. He's also a winner in Pratt County with about 64 percent of the vote. Overall, Estes leads Thompson by about 600 votes, 31,743 to 31,143. Nearly 300 of 620 precincts have reported.


8:40 p.m.

Estes continues to chip away at Thompson's overall lead. Unofficial results from Elk County show Estes winning with 78 percent to 19 percent for Thompson. Overall, Thompson leads by a little more than 1,000 votes.


8:35 p.m.

With 66 of Sedgwick County's 257 precincts reporting, Thompson leads the county with 57 percent of the vote, followed by Estes with 41 percent and Rockhold with 1 percent. With 108 of the 4th district's 620 precincts reporting, Thompson holds a narrow lead over Estes, 51 percent to 48 percent.


8:25 p.m.

Unofficial final results are in for Pawnee, Edwards, Kiowa and Comanche Counties. Ron Estes is the projected winner in all four counties with 71 percent of the vote in Pawnee County, 78 percent in Edwards County, 80 percent in Kiowa County and 74 percent in Comanche County. Overall Thompson leads with about 53 percent of the vote, followed by Estes with 45 percent and Rockhold with 2 percent.


8:18 p.m.

Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman says something went wrong with one of the tabulating machines at the Edgemoor Rec Center in Wichita, and the data didn't save there.

She says that's why we have paper ballots too.

All those sealed paper ballots will be run and a bipartisan team will re-feed those into a tabulating machine so those votes can be counted.


8:15 p.m.

Results from Harvey County show Thompson ahead early, 55 percent to 43 percent for Estes. Rockhold has about 2 percent of the early vote in the county.


8:10 p.m.

New results form Kingman County show Ron Estes in an early lead with 71 percent of the vote. Thompson has 27 percent, followed by Rockhold with 2 percent.

Overall, Thompson's lead is narrowing. The Democrat has about 54 percent of the total vote. Estes has about 44 percent, followed by Rockhold with 2 percent.


8:05 p.m.

With 36 of 257 precincts reporting in Sedgwick County, Thompson maintains his lead with about 59 percent of the total vote. Estes has about 39 percent, followed by Rockhold with 1 percent.

Estes has an early lead in a Sumner County with about 52 percent of the vote so far. Thompson has about 46 percent in Sumner County, followed by Rockhold with 1 percent.

Estes also has an early lead in Pawnee County with 71 percent of the vote. Thompson follows with 29 percent.

Overall, Thompson leads with 58 percent of the total early vote, followed by Estes with 41 percent and Rockhold with 2 percent.


7:50 p.m.

Early results in Butler County favor Estes with 54 percent of the vote. Thompson follows with 43 percent. Rockhold has 2 percent of the vote so far in Butler County. State wide, Thompson leads with 61 percent, followed by Estes with 38 percent and Rockhold with 1 percent.

Early results from Edwards County also favor Estes with 74 percent of votes. Thompson has about 24 percent so far in Edwards County, while Rockhold has 1 percent.


7:30 p.m.

Early voters in Barber County show Estes with an early lead with 62 percent of the vote so far in the county. Thompson has 35 percent of the early vote in Barber County, followed by Rockhold with 3 percent. Statewide, early results haven't changed much since the first numbers from Sedgwick County came in. Democrat James Thompson leads overall with 62 percent of the early vote, followed by Republican Ron Estes with 37 percent and Libertarian Chris Rockhold with 1 percent.


7:15 p.m.

The first set of results are coming in for Sedgwick County.The early numbers show Democrat James Thompson in the lead with 62 percent of votes. Republican Ron Estes has 37 percent, followed by Libertarian Chris Rockhold with 1 percent.


7 p.m.

Polls are closed for the Fourth Congressional District special election. Stick with and the KWCH 12 app for results as they roll in.


6 p.m.

While Wichita is the largest community in the Fourth Congressional District, the district isn't confined to the Wichita area. The district stretches from Butler County west, past Greensburg.

At the community center in Greensburg, things were calm for most of the day. Voter turnout is expected to be low, but Kiowa County voters who did show up to the polls Tuesday say they are glad they did.

But with a little more than 1,500 voters, the turnout for the special election in Kiowa County has been much different than in other, larger counties.

"I think a lot of it is going to be that it's a smaller election. It's just one race on the ballot, so I'm not predicting a lot of people will come out for that," Kiowa County Clerk Kristy Cooper said.

Some voters who came to the polls in Kiowa County say TV ads and flyers kept them informed about the special election. But at the end of the day, voters say the ads did not sway their final decision and instead, motivated them to make an informed decision on their next Congressional leader.


4:45 p.m.

Polls are getting busier as people start arriving to vote after work, but overall turnout is about one-third of what we saw in last November's general election.

Republican Ron Estes cast his vote Tuesday morning after the late push over the past couple days to get people to the polls. This race is capturing national attention because Estes is not leading by as much as was expected.

For the first time in decades, there is a possibility the 4th Congressional seat in Kansas could go Democrat. Several networks on the national level are in Wichita to cover this special election, including a crew from CBS. A network correspondent says the national interest is sparked by analysis that this race can be seen as a referendum on President Trump's performance so far in office.

Democrat James Thompson was out Tuesday meeting with voters. His campaign focused heavily on reaching people through social media and through text messages. He cast his vote early, at the end of March.

Estes' backing at the national level has included robocalls from the voices of President Trump and Mike Pence and the attendance of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at a Monday rally at Wichita's Yingling Aviation.


4:15 p.m.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is expected to be at the Sedgwick County Extension Office to observe voting on new touch-screen machines.

Voters who spoke with Eyewitness News Tuesday afternoon say the new machines are a big improvement from old machines.

After voters sign in, a worker at the polling location explains how the new machines and the process works. Voters pick their candidate using the new touch screen, then get a printout, which is then fed into a counting machine.


11:45 a.m.

Readers of a liberal blog have donated more than $200,000 in less than a week to the Democratic candidate in a special congressional election in Kansas.

The Daily Kos is encouraging readers to contribute to and make phone calls for Democrat and Wichita civil rights attorney James Thompson. He is giving Republican state Treasurer Ron Estes a tougher-than-expected race in the 4th District of south-central Kansas.

Democratic National Committee member and Daily Kos member Chris Reeves said Tuesday that the blog set up its donation site last week. A tally Tuesday morning showed more than 12,600 donors to Thompson.

It is the first special congressional election since President Donald Trump's election.

Thompson, Estes and Libertarian Chris Rockhold are running to replace the former congressman, CIA Director Mike Pompeo.


10:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is having an impact on voters in Kansas' special Congressional election.

Thomas Hauser, a 67-year-old Belle Plaine resident and traditionally a Republican says he voted for Democrat James Thompson on Tuesday, in part because they share a military background. But he also said he didn't vote for Trump in the presidential election because he doesn't "believe in the party line."

David Carron, a 50-year-old Republican from Belle Plaine, showed up to vote in his Army uniform. He said he and his wife, Crystal, voted for Republican Ron Estes "just to support Trump." He says he wants to see if the GOP "can get something done" with Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate.


9:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump says a "wonderful guy" is running for Congress whose help he needs to overhaul the health care and tax systems.

Trump tweeted Tuesday about Republican Ron Estes, who is vying to fill the seat that opened when Mike Pompeo resigned to head the CIA. But Democratic civil rights attorney James Thompson has made Tuesday's special election for a Kansas House seat long held by Republicans surprisingly competitive.

Trump says "Ron Estes is running TODAY for Congress in the Great State of Kansas. A wonderful guy, I need his help on Healthcare & Tax Cuts (Reform)."

The tweet follows get-out-the-vote calls that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have recorded for Estes.

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


12:25 a.m.

A Democratic civil rights attorney running in the nation's first congressional election since President Donald Trump's November victory has made the race surprisingly competitive for a Kansas House seat held by Republicans for more than two decades.

The special election Tuesday between Democrat James Thompson and Republican Ron Estes to fill the seat vacated by CIA Director Mike Pompeo is being watched across the nation for signs of a backlash against Republicans.

Trump won 60 percent of the votes cast in the congressional district that includes the state's largest city of Wichita.

But in a sign of nervousness, Republicans poured money into the race late to bolster Estes. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence recorded get-out-the-vote calls on his behalf and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas campaigned for him.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)