Men named Ron Estes managed to win and lose the Republican primary in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District on Tuesday.
First-term Rep. Ron Estes faced an unusual race in the Wichita area, as he faced off against competitor Ron M. Estes. In the end, the incumbent (whose middle name is Gene) prevailed.
The district is heavily Republican, so Rep. Estes is the favorite to win the November general election.
Ron M. Estes announced his candidacy in May by calling Rep. Estes “the epitome of the D.C. swamp,” The Wichita Eagle reported.
“I believe Kansas Republicans deserve a Rep. Ron Estes who will show up and represent 4th District Kansans,” the challenger said at that time. “I feel compelled to run in and win this primary to defend our Kansas values.”
Rep. Estes is a former engineer who worked in management roles and consulted for aerospace, energy and manufacturing companies. He became the Sedgwick County treasurer in 2004 and then the Kansas state treasurer in 2010.
The “other” Ron Estes ― Ron with an M. ― is also an engineer who works for aircraft manufacturing company Boeing, according to the Eagle.
A spokesman for just plain Ron Estes called the challenge an “attempt to deceive Kansas voters” in a statement to the Eagle in May. In fact, the incumbent’s campaign told voters that the “M” in his challenger’s name stood for “misleading.”
Not to be outdone, Ron M. Estes insisted that the “M” actually stood for a shortened version of America: ’Merica.
Kansas officials had trouble figuring out how the men should appear on the ballot. The elected Estes was allowed to use the title “Rep.” on the primary ballot, much to the dismay of the “other” Estes.
“If you insist on gaming the system for incumbent Estes, at least play fair,” the challenger’s campaign told the Topeka-Capital Journal in June.
Ron M. Estes’ request to be featured on the ballot as “The Real Ron Estes” was rejected by the Kansas secretary of state’s office.
Rep. Estes was elected to the U.S. House in April 2017, taking the seat that fellow Republican Mike Pompeo gave up to serve in the Trump administration. That special election was tighter than expected. Internal polls showed the former state treasurer leading by a single percentage point a week before the vote, forcing the national GOP campaign apparatus to invest nearly $120,000 to help Estes edge Democrat James Thompson.
Correction: A previous version of this story identified Rep. Estes’ predecessor as Mick Pompeo. It is Mike Pompeo.