Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kansas, fended off an unusual primary challenge Tuesday night, beating… Ron Estes.
Estes won the race after being faced with a challenger who spent very little money but did have the power of name similarity. Ron M. Estes, a first-time candidate with no political organization, described himself as “The Real Ron Estes” in the lead-up to Tuesday night.
“The ‘M” is for ‘Merica!” an ad for the challenger read.
In an interview with The Kansas Wichita-Eagle, the challenger said he had spent about $2,000 on the race and hadn’t planned on spending any more. A former employee for Boeing, he said it was important to give voters another choice.
“We want to go out and provide voters a chance to have someone adequately represent them, and not just follow the current administration’s agenda,” Estes said.
But Rep. Estes’ campaign was apparently unnerved by the push and sent out fundraising emails attacking his opponent, saying the M in his middle name stood for “misleading.”
“This appears to be a coordinated attempt to mislead voters and undermine our electoral process. However, Rep. Ron Estes remains focused on lowering taxes, growing the economy and fighting for general aviation without being distracted by political games,” Josh Bell, a spokesman for Rep. Estes, told the Wichita-Eagle.
Rep. Estes secured an important win in the race when Kansas officials allowed him to use “Rep.” as a prefix on the ballot to distinguish him from his opponent.
Estes was elected to the seat in a special election in 2017 to replace now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who left the seat vacant when he went to Washington to serve then as CIA Director.
Estes will face Democrat James Thompson in November, who he only narrowly beat in last year’s special election.