Tuesday’s primaries set up a rematch in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District.
After facing each other in last year’s close special election, Rep. Ron Estes and James Thompson will once again be on the ballot in the general election in November.
Thompson won the Democratic primary against Wichita businesswoman Laura Lombard with 65 percent of votes, according to unofficial results.
Continuing on the momentum built during the 2017 special election, Thompson raised more than $1 million in campaign contributions — compared to Lombard’s $100,000 — and received national support, including from prominent progressives. In July, Vermont senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attended a rally in Wichita for Thompson.
He said his primary win is part of a larger progressive movement.
“We are riding that wave, we are riding that movement, we are going to make great changes here,” he told supporters gathered at a Wichita brewery. “Because this is not about big money, it’s not about big names, it’s not about Bernie or Alexandria or me, this is about representing working people.”
Thompson lost the 2017 special election to Estes by fewer than 10 percentage points; as his victory party wound down late Tuesday, Estes sounded confident he could win again in November.
“There’s just so many things we can talk about,” he said. “This is what the Republican policies have been, versus the socialist policies that he wants to implement, and that’s a clear distinction. And Kansas voters are really gonna have a clear choice about who to vote for.”
Estes won the Republican primary against a challenger of the same name, receiving more than 80 percent of votes. Ron M. Estes, a Boeing engineer and first-time candidate, led a quiet, entirely self-funded campaign; he received 19 percent of votes.
Rep. Estes says he had to send a message during the primary to distinguish himself from candidate Estes. Looking forward to November, Estes says that message is shifting: to the economy, to jobs, and to Republican successes in Congress.
“There’s a lot of positive things that we’ve done," he said, "and we just want to keep moving forward."
Thompson says he’s challenging Estes to 17 debates before the general election: one for each county in the district.