Kansas treasurer wins GOP nomination to fill House seat

Kansas treasurer wins GOP nomination to fill House seat
© Greg Nash

Kansas state Treasurer Ron Estes clinched the GOP nomination for the House seat left open when former Rep. Mike Pompeo became director of the CIA.

At a Thursday night convention in the Wichita-area district, Estes won a majority of the 126 delegates casting votes in the GOP primary. He defeated Alan Cobb, a former Trump adviser and Kansas political aide; and former Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a former talk-show host and attorney.

In order to advance from the primary for Pompeo's seat, candidates needed to receive 50 percent of delegates’ votes. Estes didn’t reach that threshold in the first round of ballots and the state treasurer, meaning that Cobb and Tiahrt advanced with Estes to a second round where the treasurer eventually won.

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Estes, a two-term state treasurer, is well-known in the district and especially with grassroots activists. His wife, Susan, is a party activist who is also connected to many delegates who cast a vote in the Thursday night convention.

While Estes appeared to have a slight edge going into the convention, the special House primary was the first test for a Trump-aligned candidate running for elected office.

Cobb, who previously worked for Pompeo, former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Sen. Pat RobertsPat RobertsGOP frustrated by slow pace of Trump staffing Senate GOP defends writing its healthcare bill in private GOP senators on Comey firing: Where they stand MORE (R-Kan.), touted his close ties with the Trump administration. He served as a senior adviser to the campaign as well as director of national coalitions and a member of the transition team.

Tiahrt was another well-known contender, having represented the district from 1995 to 2011. But he angered some when he challenged Pompeo in 2014. 

National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Steve Stivers congratulated Estes on his victory and praised his conservative credentials.

"The NRCC stands squarely behind him and I'm supremely confident Ron Estes has the right message to keep the district in Republican hands,” Stivers said in a statement following his victory. “We need his voice in Congress helping us work toward dismantling Obamacare, reforming the tax code, and repairing a broken VA system."

Democrats will hold a similar nominating convention on Saturday afternoon, while registered Libertarians in the district will be able to vote for their party’s nominee that same day.

Estes will now advance on to the special election held on April 11. He is favored to win Pompeo’s seat, which is considered a safe Republican district.