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Tuesday, April 11, 2017


No-dread Tuesdays

by Tom Sullivan

The Forbes headline couched today's special election in Kansas in words mixed with battery acid: Paul Ryan Could Lose Another Trumpcare Vote Tuesday In Kansas. The Cook Political Report has moved the race from Likely Republican to Lean Republican. Forbes begins:

The GOP is worried it might lose Kansas’ seemingly safe Fourth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that had been held by Mike Pompeo, a Republican, who was confirmed in January to be CIA Director. Momentum has been building for the Democrat, Army veteran and civil rights attorney James Thompson in his race against Republican state treasurer Ron Estes.
Given what Gov. Sam Brownback's experiment in trickle-down Randism has done to the state's economy, who can blame the state treasurer for seeking the nearest exit? Brownback gave Estes a leg down last week by vetoing a bipartisan bill to expand Medicaid to the state's nuevo poor, now with even less funding for education thanks to Brownback's policies.

KMUW Wichita describes Thompson as "a Sanders-inspired newbie" who "grew up dirt poor, mainly in Oklahoma, and he served in the Army, a fact he promotes in his advertisements." He narrowly defeated a more well-known local politician at local Democrats' nominating convention in February. Thompson has the backing of liberal blog Daily Kos, and Democracy for America has asked volunteers to call into the Fourth District.

Forbes continues:
“Democratic energy and enthusiasm are way up in Kansas' Fourth district, and Republicans are worried enough that they have started pouring resources into the race in the last week,” the Washington Examiner reported Friday.
Republicans have mounted a rescue mission, dropping robocalls from President Trump and Vice President Pence by the thousands. Paul Ryan has emailed Republican donors asking for money to prop up Estes. Republicans have spent about $100,000 in the last week on the last-minute effort:
"That’s the best indicator of any that there’s some possibility of an upset," said Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas who studies elections in the state. He said the the push by national party leaders suggests they might have data that foretells a competitive election. (There has not been much public polling on the race, which has also not drawn much attention from the Democratic Party at large.)
Not to be out-last-minuted by Republicans, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's brain trust began aiming live calls at the district on Monday. A spokesperson gave a post hoc explanation for why the DCCC arrived late for its own party. Huffington Post:
A DCCC official who spoke with The Huffington Post on Monday, however, argued that the party’s involvement would have been “extremely damaging” to Thompson because it would have been used against him by Republicans, who have poured significant money into the race. Thompson has performed better than expected in the race because he stayed under the radar, the official added.

“Now that the race is being nationalized, and the involvement of a national party committee can’t be used against him, we don’t want Thompson to go unprotected,” the official said, adding that the race provides an opportunity to test messaging for future elections.
It's that kind of "unnamed official" savvy that has cost the Democratic party over 60 seats in the House plus hundreds of legislative seats and a dozen governorships since 2008. Simply put, if you don't show up to play, you forfeit. It is not yet clear that the party has abandoned its "forfeit to win" strategy for a renewed 50 state plan in 2017. Still, there is some reason for optimism in Kansas and beyond, Cook reports:
Even a single-digit finish in a seat like KS-04, with a Cook PVI score of R+15, would portend big trouble for Republicans in next week's special primary election in GA-06, which has a PVI score of R+8. There is a real chance Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is dramatically outspending the rest of the field while the main GOP contenders turn on each other, could hit 50 percent on April 18 and avoid a runoff. As such, we are moving GA-06 to Toss Up.
It might be time to stop dreading Tuesdays. Send Jon Ossoff some love, won't you?