Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday Democrats should have done more to help a special election candidate in last week’s surprisingly close Kansas race.
James Thompson, a veteran and civil rights attorney who Sanders endorsed, lost by just 6 percentage points to Kansas Treasurer Ron Estes in the heavily Republican 4th District. Progressives have criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and national strategists for not doing more to help Thompson win.
"It is true that the Democratic Party should have put more resources into that election," Sanders said on CNN’s "State of the Union" of the Thompson campaign. "But it is also true that he ran 20 points better than the Democratic candidate for president did in Kansas."
Sanders is about to embark on a nine-state tour with new Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, focusing on red states.
"So many of our people are giving up on the political process. It is very frightening. In the last presidential election, when Trump won, we had the lowest voter turnout over — in 20 years. And in the previous two years before that, in the midterm election, we had the lowest voter turnout in 70 years," Sanders said. "We’re going to be fighting to see that the Democratic Party becomes a 50-state party. You can’t just be a West Coast party and an East Coast party."
Sanders said he thought Democratic energy would serve the party well in a special election on Tuesday in Georgia, where Jon Ossoff has been polling well, and in a forthcoming special in Montana.
"So, what you’re seeing in Kansas, what you’re seeing in Georgia, I believe you’re going to see it in Montana, I believe you’re going to see it all over this country, is the many so-called red states, working people are going to wake up and say, wait a second," Sanders said. "Republicans want to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education, and they want to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 1 percent. No, that’s not what we elected Trump to do."
Estes and Thompson were running to replace Mike Pompeo, who resigned to become director of the CIA. Pompeo had won reelection in November by almost 32 percentage points.