Following narrow victory, Estes prepares to join a turbulent Capitol Hill

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Ron Estes is gearing up to represent Kansas’ 4th Congressional District, but it might not be all that easy. After winning a tight race last week over Democrat James Thompson, questions are still brewing over public support for the Republican Party.

CQ Roll Call senior editor David Hawkings says Democrats are trying to seize the opportunity a divided Republican Party has handed them.

“It was absolutely important to win this seat, and we think that this victory sends a very important message,” said Jack Pandol, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Pandol says the GOP is feeling confident.

“Ron ran a great race,” said Pandol. “He ran a race that was strongly in support of Donald Trump and the Republican agenda, and you know we believe that’s why he won.”

Estes beat Thompson by seven points. It was not as resounding as his predecessor, now-CIA Director, Mike Pompeo’s, who won by 30 points in November. Pandol says the Republican Party is not worried about the margin of victory. He says special elections are a different animal.

“To derive broader conclusions from just this one race is a little bit dangerous,” said Pandol.

Others say President Donald Trump is precisely why this race came down to the wire. Estes joins his Republican colleagues at a time when upholding campaign promises is proving hard to do.

“He’ll be encouraged mostly to listen the leadership, listen to the House Republican campaign committee, and to follow their advice which will almost assuredly be, start dialing for dollars right away,” said David Hawkings, senior editor at CQ Roll Call.

With Republicans failing to pass health care reform, and party infighting, Hawkings says Democrats are trying to seize the opportunity to gain seats in special elections across the country, even in historically red districts.

“There are viable Democratic candidates who are making serious runs at this with enormous amounts of money,” said Hawkings.

Estes will officially take the oath of office when the House returns from recess next week.