Politics

Democrat Plays a Little Gamesmanship in the Ron Estes vs. Ron Estes Primary

Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kan., has requested to use the prefix "Rep." on the GOP primary ballot in August. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democrat is sowing more chaos into the GOP primary battle between Kansas Rep. Ron Estes and his opponent, Ron M. Estes.

Laura Lombard, one of the two top Democrats running to unseat the incumbent Estes in Kansas’ 4th District, filed a request with the State Objections Board to remove the “Rep.” prefix from the congressman’s name on the primary ballot, saying the title violates state law.

The challenger, Ron M. Estes, is using his middle initial on the ballot to differentiate himself.

Candidates for office are not allowed to add prefixes or suffixes to their names unless they are needed to “distinguish one candidate from another,” according to Kansas state law.

“The use of ‘Rep’ is not necessary to differentiate himself, directly violates this statute, and provides an unfair advantage over his competitors,” Lombard writes in the complaint, the Kansas City Star reported. “Furthermore, no other currently elected official — either Republican or Democrat — facing a primary race was provided this same benefit.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of three people on the objections board that will decide the matter, said last week that both Ron Esteses had the opportunity to select a prefix or suffix.

Rep. Estes chose his congressional representative title. The challenger chose his middle initial.

The complaint with the objections board amounts to petty political gamesmanship, a spokesman for Rep. Estes said in a statement to multiple outlets in Kansas Monday.

 “This is political dirty tricks and a clear attempt to mislead Kansas voters,” Rep. Estes spokesman Josh Bell said. “The law provides a method for voters to distinguish between an impostor candidate and an incumbent with the same name.

“Instead of issuing complaints against Rep. Ron Estes, candidates should be focused instead on condemning any attempt to mislead Kansas voters,” Bell said.

Estes won his seat last year in a special election to replace Mike Pompeo when he left the House to become CIA director for President Donald Trump’s administration.

Kansas’ primary will be held on August 7.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race for Kansas’ 4th District as Solid Republican

Watch: Ready for the Midterms? Reactions to 3 Campaign Ads From Roll Call’s Editors

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.