Vermont senator and Democratic political star Bernie Sanders says the national party should have done more to help James Thompson in last week’s 4th District congressional race against Republican Ron Estes.
But he also said the close result – Estes won 53-46 percent in the closest finish in 20 years – shows that voters in Republican-dominated “red states” are starting to question whether they will get what they voted for when they picked Donald Trump as president.
The Kansas election came up during a Sunday interview on CNN’s program, “State of the Union,” where host Jake Tapper interviewed Sanders about a nine-state political tour he embarked on Monday with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
Democrats are faced with two other upcoming special elections in the red states of Georgia and Montana.
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Thompson won the advance ballots in last week’s Kansas election but was swamped in Tuesday voting following an attack-ad blitz, funded by the National Republican Congressional Committee, in the final weekend of the campaign.
“A lot of people criticized the DNC for not sending enough resources to Kansas,” Tapper noted in his questioning of Sanders.
Sanders reply: “In Kansas, it is true that the Democratic candidate lost. It is true that the Democratic Party should have put more resources into that election.
“But it is also true that he ran 20 points better than the Democratic candidate for president did in Kansas,” he added.
Thompson said he thinks the national Democratic Party “should be better able to react” when Republicans start pouring money and time into a close regional race.
In addition to ad buys of more than $90,000 attacking Thompson, the Republicans also dispatched Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to Wichita to rally the troops and had Trump and Vice President Mike Pence record robo-calls on Estes’ behalf.
Thompson said he thought his campaign could have benefitted from a visit by a nationally prominent Democrat, such as former Vice President Joe Biden.
Sander said he thinks Thompson’s strong showing spells trouble ahead for Republicans as working-class voters start to realize Trump doesn’t have their interests at heart.
“So what you’re seeing in Kansas, what you’re seeing in Georgia, I believe you’re going to see it in Montana, I believe you’re going to see it all over this country, is that (in) many so-called ‘red states,’ working people are going to wake up and say: ‘Wait a second, Republicans want to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education, and they want to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 1 percent. No, that’s not what we elected Trump to do.’”