Political Notes — Keep your eye on another congressional election in Kansas

[private]Georgia’s 6th Congressional District election next week has long been touted as an early referendum on the Trump administration.

But there is another special election being held today in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District that could provide an even earlier barometer of voters’ attitudes towards the new administration.

This House seat became open when Mike Pompeo quit Congress to take over the CIA, and it’s being contested by Republican Ron Estes, the state treasurer, and James Thompson, an attorney and a Bernie Sanders Democrat.

The 4th District is much redder than Georgia’s 6th District: Trump carried it by 27 points, compared to less than 2 points here, and the district includes Wichita, the home base of Koch Industries. You’d think it would be a slam dunk for Estes.

But still, national Republicans have been acting panicky about the Kansas election because internal polls apparently show the race is much tighter than it should be.

As reported by David Weigel in the Washington Post:

But in the final days before Tuesday’s special election, Republicans reacted to weak polling and turnout data by rushing resources to southern Kansas. A GOP super PAC rolled out robo-calls over the weekend from Vice President Pence, and on Monday from President Trump, in support of candidate Ron Estes.

“Ron Estes needs your vote and needs it badly,” Trump said on the call. “Ron is going to be helping us, big league.”

On Monday, Republicans also dispatched Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) for a fly-in, where he urged Kansans to vote “if you’re fed up with the stagnation under the Obama economy.”

Late Monday, the national House Democratic campaign arm announced that it was calling 25,000 households to counter the GOP influx. Readers of the liberal Daily Kos donated a total of $149,000 to Thompson over the final weekend.

Thompson is a much longer shot in this race than Democrat Jon Ossoff is in Georgia, and a Thompson win would be truly cataclysmic for the GOP. This is more the kind of race where Republicans could suffer some embarrassment if Thompson lost as expected but kept the margin between him and Estes in single digits.

In any event, this is an election to keep an eye on as the April 18 election date in Georgia gets closer.

Meanwhile, back in the 6th CD . . .

As the 6th Congressional District race heads into the final week, the political handicapper Cook Political Report has moved its rating on the election from “Leans Republican” to “Tossup.”

“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,” said the Report’s David Wasserman.

Among the Republicans fighting for a possible runoff spot with Ossoff, former state senator Dan Moody rolled out a late set of endorsements from state Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), state Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), former House member Mark Burkhalter, and former state senator Chuck Clay of Marietta.

“I have long admired his accomplishments, especially serving families, first responders, military personnel and small businesses,” Albers said.

“Having served with him in the State Senate I know first-hand that he would follow in his predecessors’ footsteps in the 6th District and would roll up his sleeves and get to work for Cobb County in Congress,” Clay said.

Over the weekend, a local radio station edited out a false claim made in an NRA attack ad that alleged Ossoff “grew up in Washington, D.C.” The radio station WYAY-FM removed the line from the ad after the campaign flagged it.

Ossoff was actually born in Georgia. The one candidate in this race who really was born in Washington, D.C. is Republican Karen Handel, who grew up in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Public schools show some improvement

The state Department of Education said 74 out of 243 schools have improved to the point where they moved off the Priority and Focus Schools lists.

Priority schools are the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title I schools based on achievement data, plus schools that have a graduation rate below 60 percent for two consecutive years. Focus schools are the lowest-performing 10 percent of Title I schools based on achievement gap data.

“Every school that made the necessary improvements to exit Priority or Focus School status deserves to be commended,” state school Supt. Richard Woods said. “The ongoing work of these schools, coupled with supports from GaDOE staff and RESAs, continues to move the needle and prove that underperforming schools can improve, even when they face difficult odds.”

The improving schools include nine in the Atlanta school system and five in the DeKalb County school system.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report


Tags: 6th Congressional District race , Kansas congressional race , public schools improve