WICHITA, Kan. Update Tuesday, June 5:
The race for the fourth congressional district seat in Kansas continues to heat up.
Two men - who both bear the name Ron Estes - have filed as Republican candidates for the seat.
To distinguish the two men, the Secretary of State's Office has listed the incumbent as "Rep. Ron Estes".
His opponent, Ron M. Estes, released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying verbiage is biased and unfair - and offered his own alternatives of the congressman's name:
"I have been disappointed with the decision by the Kansas Secretary of State Office in trying to add an unlawful title to my opponent's name on the Primary Ballot, in their view, to provide unique distinction between candidates. Unfortunately the use of "Rep." preceding a name would infer "representative" which is just as bad as indicating the "incumbent" on the ballot. That is unfair and biased.
To rectify the situation on the ballot, I am providing you some options regarding how to list candidate names on the ballot, in order of preference:
1.) Incumbent Ron Estes should be listed as "Ron G. Estes"
This is by far the fairest solution, as I have provided my middle initial M. for this purpose, to avoid unfairness and confusion.
2.) Incumbent Ron Estes should be listed as "Ron Estes, Jr."
"Rep." is not a legal prefix or suffix, it's a title of honor. "Jr." is an appropriate suffix for the Incumbent Ron Estes.
3.) Real Ron Estes should be listed as "Real Ron Estes"
If you insist on gaming the system for Incumbent Estes, at least play fair. I am the Real Ron Estes.
I appreciate your respectful solution."
The statement follows one released by Ron M. Estes, who refers to himself as "The Real Ron Estes", Monday afternoon:
"FRAUD ALERT: Republican voters should not be confused by the DC Democrat falsely claiming to help our campaign for publicity. And the voters will see that Secretary of State Kobach is attempting to tip the scales in favor of his buddy.
The Real Ron Estes campaign intentionally included my middle initial “M” when I filed for office to distinguish between the two candidates and avoid any confusion for the voters. We wanted to make a clear choice for Republican voters in the Primary. I am working hard so they will vote for me August 7."
Democratic contender Laura Lombard also released a statement on the issue Monday morning.
She said she intends to file a complaint with the Kansas Secretary of State’s office regarding Congressman Estes’s ballot filing. She said he violated a Kansas election statute that prevents candidates from listing their elected titles in their ballot filing.
“My campaign intends to fulfill all election laws to the letter,” said Laura Lombard. “And we expect our competitors to do the same. Ron Estes using his title as part of his ballot name gives him an unfair advantage over his opponents, and it is against Kansas election law. Furthermore, several sitting Republican and Democratic elected officials facing primaries were not afforded the same benefit.”
Eyewitness News reporter Anna Auld reached out to Ron M. Estes through emails for an on-camera comment on the issue. Upon going to his home, a man she talked to said he wasn't Ron M. and didn't know how to get hold of him, while neighbors confirmed it was the correct address. The same address also listed under his candidate filing.
Rep. Ron Estes and Ron M. Estes will battle it out in the Republican primary on August 7. Lombard faces Wichita attorney James Thompson on the Democratic side.
Update Friday, June 1:
As Congressman Ron Estes diligently works to clear any confusion that may come with a challenger of the same name stepping up to contest him in the August Republican Primary, the Kansas Secretary of State's Office is taking a measure to help.
It's doing so by listing incumbent Ron Estes as "Rep. Ron Estes." The challenger Ron Estes is listed as "Ron M. Estes."
In response to the ballot filing for Rep. Ron Estes, Laura Lombard, a Democratic candidate for the Congressional Fourth District announced Friday evening that she's filing a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office.
Lombard says Rep. Estes violated a Kansas election statue that prevents candidates from listing their elected titles in their ballot filing.
“My campaign intends to fulfill all election laws to the letter,” Lombard says. “And we expect our competitors to do the same. Ron Estes using his title as part of his ballot name gives him an unfair advantage over his opponents, and it is against Kansas election law. Furthermore, several sitting Republican and Democratic elected officials facing primaries were not afforded the same benefit.”
Earlier Friday, Rep. Ron Estes issued a statement saying the M. in his Republican challenger's name stands for "Misleading."
"I appreciate a good gag but turning an election into a practical joke is no laughing matter. In fact, it’s appalling and it’s an insult to Kansas voters," the congressman says.
Friday afternoon, the campaign for Ron. M. Estes, calling him "The Real Ron Estes," issued its own statement, calling Rep. Estes "a rubber stamp politician, who falls in line when he is told."
"The Real Ron Estes is ready to lead Kansas with traditional Republican Values. It is time to bring normal Kansans back into the fold," the challenger says.
The statement says Ron M. Estes is a 61-year-old Wichita man who "just celebrated 40 years with Boeing" and has been married for 35 years.
Eyewitness News tried to talk to Ron M. Estes Friday by phone and in-person. The email response with the written statement is the only answer we received from him. The bottom of that email asked the media not to show up at his home.
"I really don't know who is backing him or encouraging him to do that," Rep. Ron Estes says. "Obviously you don't create a website, list a campaign and file and all that by yourself.
There has been some speculation about the challenger's loyalty to the Republican party after Ron M. Estes and his wife supported Democratic campaigns in the past, including his wife's contribution to Democrat James Thompson's bid for the Fourth Congressional seat against current incumbent Ron Estes.
In response to questions about such speculation, Thompson's office says he had nothing to do with Ron M. Estes' candidacy. In a statement, Thompson said, "I'm focused on my campaign and I don't have time for political games.
Thompson faces Lombard in the Democratic Primary for the Fourth Congressional District. He went on to say he's eager to defeat whichever Estes wins the Republican Primary.
Thursday, May 31
Congressman Ron Estes has a Republican primary opponent in his bid for another term representing Kansas' 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The current candidate listing on Sedgwick County's election website
shows Ron M. Estes is filed as a Republican to run against the incumbent Ron Estes.
The incumbent has become the epitome of the DC Swamp. I believe Kansas Republicans deserve a Rep. Ron Estes who will show up and represent Fourth District Kansans. I feel compelled to run in and win this primary to defend our Kansas values," Ron M. Estes says on his website , in which he's referred as "The Real Ron Estes."
Josh Bell, spokesman for Congressman Ron Estes released the following statemnt Thursday evening regarding the filing of a like-named challenger:
"This is clearly an attempt to deceive Kansas voters,” said Estes spokesman Josh Bell. “Kansans know that Congressman Ron Estes is fighting for them in Washington. Rep. Ron Estes looks forward to discussing with voters how to keep this positive economic momentum going — it's starting to have a big impact for Kansas families.”