We interviewed Ron M. Estes on Thursday, the Republican primary challenger to Rep. Ron G. Estes in Kansas’ 4th District U.S. House race.
It was his third media interview in seven weeks as a candidate, and he absolutely believes he would be running if his name was Ron Jones.
“Yeah, yes,” he said.
So this identical name thing is a one-in-a-million coincidence?
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I’d really like to believe that. Ron M. Estes is a quiet, likeable guy who appears versed on issues that affect 4th District voters.
But c’mon. A challenger by any other name would be dead doing what Estes has done.
Ron M. has made no public campaign appearances other than day trips to Derby, Winfield and Newton. Each time there was no appearance scheduled. He and his wife, Ellen, stopped for a meal and introduced themselves.
“It’s pretty much going around, meeting people,” Estes said. “We have not asked to meet with organizations.”
Estes has spent about $2,000 on the race — mostly the filing fee and website creation — and doesn’t plan to spend any more. No yard signs, mailers or advertising.
“We knew we couldn’t out-raise the current incumbent, so there really wasn’t any real strategy in going live with all the bells and whistles,” Estes said. “So we’ve been a grass-roots campaign over social media, other things.”
There have been no forums or debates with Rep. Estes — as much the congressman’s fault as Ron M’s. Then again, it’s hard for Rep. Estes to take Ron M. seriously with M’s lack of exposure.
Look, Ron M. is smarter than you and me (certainly me). He’s worked for Boeing for 40 years, including seven years in Houston working on the International Space Station project. His title these days is configuration manager in the new Global Support Division.
But spend 30 minutes with him — heck, spend five — and it’s apparent he’s the most reluctant, reserved candidate for Congress you can imagine.
“It’s taken me a little bit out of my comfort zone, and I think it’s mainly new people,” Estes said. “But I do have a 40-year record with a major company, interfacing with people of all levels, including vice presidents and presidents of divisions.”
Estes does have a reason for running, and he’s more comfortable talking about that than the dual names. He doesn’t think the incumbent has served the 4th District well in 15 months on the job. The honeymoon period is long over.
“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.
He acknowledges that every vote for him — the non-candidate candidate — is likely a vote against the congressman named Estes.
“It could be, yeah,” Ron M. said.
And this might not be the last we hear from M. He’s not ruling out a second campaign run after 2018.
“I think it might be in the future,” he said.