Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders congratulated Wichita congressional candidate James Thompson on Wednesday for running a strong campaign in his loss to State Treasurer Ron Estes.
“Nobody likes to lose a close election but, in a congressional district that Donald Trump won by 27 points last fall, James lost by just seven points last night,” Sanders said in a statement. “That’s an incredibly impressive showing.”
Thompson got 46 percent of the vote to Estes’ 53, the best showing by a Democrat in a 4th District congressional race in 20 years. The pair contested for the seat vacated when former Rep. Mike Pompeo resigned from Congress to serve as CIA director in the Trump administration.
Sanders, who came to national prominence last year with a surprisingly strong grassroots campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, had endorsed Thompson.
And progressive Democrats who were energized last year by Sanders’ campaign against Hillary Clinton made up a large part of the “Thompson Army” of core supporters.
Sanders said Thompson’s finish bodes well for progressives in areas where they’re not starting as far behind in party registration as in south-central Kansas.
In the 4th District, Republicans outnumber Democrats about 187,000 to 96,000, with 140,000 unaffiliated voters.
“Progressives in Kansas lost the battle last night for a seat in Congress, but their overall efforts are helping us win the war to transform the Democratic Party and our nation,” Sanders said.
He added that Thompson achieved “a showing that makes the entire country understand that grassroots America is beginning to stand up and fight back against the 1 percent (of the wealthy) – and that the momentum is with us.”