Jan. 8, 2018 — Veteran Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts (R), who will turn 84 years of age before the next election, announced last Friday that he will not seek re-election to a fifth term in 2020. He becomes the second Senate incumbent to announce his retirement effective 2021, following Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander (R) who made his decision public just before Christmas.
In 2014, Sen. Roberts faced a competitive election against Independent Greg Orman who appeared to coalesce the anti-Roberts vote when Democrat Chad Taylor withdrew from the race because the latter man knew that the senator was certain to win a three-way contest.
With early October polls finding Orman leading Sen. Roberts by as many as 10 percentage points, the veteran Kansas office holder pulled out all of the stops to rebound with a 53-43 percent win. The 2014 Republican wave helped Roberts sweep to victory, overcoming what proved to be largely inaccurate polling along the way.
Pat Roberts was originally elected to Congress in 1980, winning the western 1st District, a seat he would hold for eight terms before claiming an open Senate position in 1996. At the end of the current term he will conclude 40 years of congressional service.
May 30, 2017 — More incorrect post-election analysis is coming to the forefront after last week’s Montana special congressional election.
After a similar Kansas special electoral contest in April yielded stories saying that a 7,600-vote Republican victory was an under-performance and reflected poorly upon a besieged President Donald Trump, similar analyses came immediately after Greg Gianforte’s 23,000-vote (22,990) win last Thursday over Democratic nominee Rob Quist.
In response to the media stories in April, we pointed out that the 52-46 percent Ron Estes victory in Kansas’ Wichita anchored district was only slightly behind previous open seat or challenger GOP victories – Todd Tiahrt first converting the seat in 1994 with 53 percent and Mike Pompeo winning the open district seven years ago with 59 percent – rather than a precursor to a coming Democratic wave election. In both the Kansas and Montana post-election analysis, the past Republican-Democrat performance was generally only defined as how the candidates performed in the 2016 and 2012 presidential elections, while failing to account for the particular region’s more complete voting history.
The New York Times ran a story last Friday, the day after the Montana election, that portrayed liberal Democratic base activists as being upset with the party chieftains who didn’t prioritize converting the at-large Big Sky Country campaign. Again, the 50-44 percent Republican victory was couched as Quist being in range for an upset if more outside support would have come from national Democratic party organizations and affiliated outside organizations. Citing President Trump’s 20-point victory in the state as basically the sole determining factor as Montana being a “solid Republican state”, the Gianforte victory pales in comparison.
Feb. 13, 2017 — The 126-member 4th District Republican Congressional Committee met in Wichita last week to choose a nominee with the objective of keeping the vacant US House seat under GOP control. CIA Director Mike Pompeo (R) resigned from Congress to accept President Trump’s appointment. Therefore, the special election to replace him is set for April 11.
Late last week, state Treasurer Ron Estes officially became the party standard bearer by capturing 66 of the 126 votes on the second ballot. He defeated Trump Transition Team member and presidential campaign official Alan Cobb, ex-US Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Wichita), former radio talk show host Joseph Ashby, and petroleum company CEO George Bruce. Wichita City Councilman Pete Meitzner had been campaigning for the seat, but decided not to enter the official local convention proceedings.
On the first ballot, Estes scored 58 votes, six short of claiming the nomination outright. Cobb was second with 28 secret ballot votes. Former eight-term US Rep. Tiahrt landed in the second tier of candidates, ahead of only Ashby and Bruce.
Feb. 3, 2017 — Soon we will be moving fully into special election season and the Democrats have already been dealt some early bad breaks, but not from Republicans.
In the four special elections created because President Trump appointed House members to various Trump administration positions, a quartet of Republican seats will go to election before the 4th of July, at least theoretically giving Democrats some opportunity for gains.
A fifth special, the Democratic CA-34 seat vacated when Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) resigned to accept Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) appointment as California Attorney General, will be decided on June 6. Democrats should have no trouble advancing two party members to the special general election.