Thompson says special election is a referendum on policies
By ROXANA HEGEMAN Associated Press
WICHITA - The nation's first congressional election to fill the seat left vacant by CIA Director Mike Pompeo in Kansas will be both a referendum on the policies of the state's Republican governor and those of President Donald Trump, Democratic candidate James Thompson said Monday.
His comments came during his first news conference of a congressional race that is playing out amid a backlash against the ultra-conservative agenda championed by Gov. Sam Brownback.
During last year's elections two dozen of the governor's allies lost legislative seats. Even some Republicans have concluded that the income tax cuts that Brownback is still touting nationally are responsible for the state's persistent budget woes.
Thompson portrayed his Republican opponent, state Treasurer Ron Estes, as a supportive part of the Brownback Administration and its policies.
"We have people in our state that are tired of Mr. Brownback's policies and they don't want to see another Brownback clone take his policies and nationalize them," Thompson said.
Estes' campaign said in an emailed statement that if Thompson wants to run for governor, he could do that next year.
"Ron Estes is a conservative problem solver and an independent thinker who has a proven record of working with members of both parties to protect Kansas taxpayers," wrote campaign manager Rodger Woods.
"This election is about who will represent the 4th District and our concerns about getting the economy growing, removing burdensome regulations and having free and fair trade opportunities for our manufacturing and agricultural products," Woods said.
The April 11 vote is the nation's first special congressional election since Trump's win, and Democrats are hoping to channel voter discontent with Brownback into an upset in the heavily Republican district. Trump won 60 percent of the votes cast in the 17-county congressional district.
Republicans have represented the district that encompasses the state's largest city of Wichita since Todd Tiahrt unseated veteran Democratic Rep. Dan Glickman in 1994. Pompeo won the state's 4th District seat in 2010, when Tiahrt gave it up to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.
Thompson called Monday's news conference to publicly urge a crackdown on human trafficking — an issue he says is consistent with his campaign of fighting for families.
Thompson, a civil rights lawyer, told reporters that social workers, teachers and others need to be given the tools to recognize the problem, and that prosecutors should "stop punishing the victims" and instead go after the johns and the pimps.
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