Backlash against Trump and Brownback forces GOP to scramble to save deep-red Kansas seat
Donald Trump speaking at his veterans fundraiser in Iowa in January (Photo: Screen capture)

The Republican Party is working overtime to save a key congressional seat in the deep-red state of Kansas.


NPR reports that the Republican Party has been deploying some of its most prominent lawmakers -- including President Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) -- to help Republican Kansas state party Treasurer Ron Estes get elected to Congress in Kansas's 4th district.

Trump recorded a robocall telling Kansas voters that Estes needed their votes "badly," and he also sent out a tweet urging voters to pick Estes to help enact the president's agenda on health care and taxes.

Although Estes is still favored to defeat Democrat James Thompson in the election on Tuesday, the fact that the GOP is dedicating significant resources to defending a seat in a district that Trump won by 27 points in 2016 could signal trouble for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.

Republicans at the moment are facing three problems: Added enthusiasm from Democratic voters, low approval ratings for President Trump, and catastrophically low approval ratings for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

According to Real Clear Politics, Trump's national net approval is underwater by 11 points, which is unprecedentedly low for a president who has been in office for only three months. A new Morning Consult poll, meanwhile, pegs Brownback's approval at just 27%, while two-thirds of voters in the state disapprove of the governor's performance.

Elections analyst Sean Trende writes that Brownback's deep unpopularity might be an even bigger reason for Republicans to worry about the district than anything President Trump has done so far.

"Brownback has seen his popularity plummet in the state, so the fact that one of his Cabinet members, Treasury Secretary Ron Estes, is the Republican nominee for Pompeo’s seat is not a great sign," he writes. "This is compounded by the fact that Estes has, by all accounts, run a lackluster campaign; his ads have been uninspiring and he’s nearly been matched in fundraising by his opponent, James Thompson."

Kansas's 4th district is the home of GOP megadonor Charles Koch, and its congressional seat hasn't been held by a Democrat since 1992.