I’m traveling to Wichita tomorrow to cover the final days of the special election in the Fourth Congressional District, which is scheduled for next Tuesday. Recent developments indicate a much closer race than predicted in a district Donald Trump won by 27 points last November. There are no public poll numbers available for this race, but recent actions taken by national Republicans to lock down this race speak volumes:
- The National Republican Congressional Committee is making a last-minute $92,000 expenditure in the race to attack Democratic candidate James Thompson. (Politico quotes an anonymous Kansas Republican consultant saying, “Kansas should not be in play, but Kansas is in play.”)
- Vice President Mike Pence recorded a robocall on behalf of Republican candidate Ron Estes. (The Washington Examiner quoted an anonymous Kansas Republican saying, “Ron’s run a horrible campaign. Hasn’t raised much money, his ads are abysmal — no energy.” “It’s a low turnout special and weird things happen.”)
- House Speaker Paul Ryan sent out a fundraising email on behalf of Estes, and sent his campaign a $5,000 check, according to The Hill reporter Scott Wong.
- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will be in Wichita on Monday campaigning with Estes on the final day before the election. (Context: Cruz won the Kansas caucuses 48-23 last year.)
- The White House political office is also getting involved in this effort.
- Mark Kahrs, a Kansas Republican national committeeman, told the Kansas City Star that early voting numbers are below projections, and that Cruz’s last-minute appearance will help with voter turnout on Tuesday.
- Early voting in the race began on March 27. The most recent numbers (as of yesterday) from Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman:
NOTE: I am told by the Sedgwick County Election Office that the early voting numbers are updated after the polls close at the end of each day, so more numbers will be coming today and in the days ahead. According to state law, early voting ends at noon on Monday.
Democrats shouldn’t get too cocky. Senator Pat Roberts and Governor Sam Brownback both won their respective races in 2014 despite showing abysmal early poll numbers and running less-than-stellar campaigns.