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James Thompson (Thompson campaign)

Republicans thought a House election in Kansas would be a breeze. Now they fear an upset.

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When President Trump picked Mike Pompeo to be his new CIA director, that meant a special election to replace his seat in Congress was on the way. It was in the heart of a strongly Republican district in Kansas that Trump won by 27 percentage points.

But now, The Washington Post reports, the race is so close that Republican leaders, including Trump himself, are rallying the troops to give Ron Estes a boost in today's election.  Democratic challenger James Thompson's staff told him Monday he had a lead.

Trump endorsed Estes on Twitter on Tuesday.

Trump also joined a Republican super PAC's robo calls, saying, "Ron Estes needs your vote and needs it badly. Ron is going to be helping us, big league."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) similarly urged voters to support Estes "if you're fed up with the stagnation under the Obama economy." 

But Thompson has a flood of support behind him as well. Readers of the liberal Daily Kos donated $149,000 to support Thompson last weekend. And the flood of Republican support has emboldened Thompson's supporters who now think he has a chance.

People here still like Trump. It's not been a referendum on him. It's a referendum on the failed Republican leadership in the state.
James Thompson

The 2016 election may have shown signs that Kansas, despite its strong support for Trump, isn't as diehard Republican as it appears. The Republicans lost three House seats near Wichita. With that said, Thompson's campaign signs don't identify him as a Democrat, but as an Army veteran.

James Thompson for Kansas

WATCH | Even Thompson's campaign ads don't identify him as a Democrat.

Can you identify the US state based only on its shape?
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