In a sign of the times, there's mounting GOP concern in an unlikely place: Wichita, Kansas. With four days to go until the April 11 special election to replace new CIA Director Mike Pompeo, the NRCC has gone up with a last-minute ad buy to shore up GOP State Treasurer Ron Estes's standing. In February, Democratic nominee and civil rights attorney James Thompson's own campaign poll showed him trailing Estes by 24 points.
Kansas's 4th CD sports a PVI score of R+15 and voted for President Trump 60 percent to 33 percent. But special elections can be extremely low-turnout affairs, and the NRCC's ad, which accuses Thompson of supporting late term abortion, is a sure indication that Republicans are concerned about their base's engagement at a time when Trump's approval rating is in the high 30s nationally and GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's approval is mired in the 20s.
Thompson had raised about $250,000 by late March, which was enough to go up on air in the relatively efficient Wichita market, yet has struggled to attract dollars from his state party. But Estes, who has held statewide office alongside Brownback since 2010, isn't much of a messenger for change. Thompson has tried to tie Estes to the state's school funding crisis, while Estes has tried to emphasize his credentials as an engineer and nationalize the race.
Given the district's heavy GOP tilt, Estes is still the favorite on Tuesday, but the margin could be an indicator of just how big of an enthusiasm gap the GOP faces heading into upcoming special elections like GA-06.