The first general election contest since President Trump took office kicks off in Kansas, with what was once expected to be an easy win for Republicans turning unexpectedly fierce.
Republican Ron Estes, a two-term state treasurer, is still the favorite to win the Wichita-area 4th congressional district that Trump carried by nearly 30 points, but Republicans in the state predict that it'll be a closer-than-expected margin with Democratic candidate James Thompson.
The Hill will be updating this blog as polls close at 8 p.m. EST and votes start to roll in.
AP calls race for Estes
Updated 10:49 p.m.
The Associated Press has called the race for Estes in what was a closer-than-expected election
AP called it with Estes leading by 6 points, with 88 percent of precincts reporting.
While Thompson wasn't able to deliver a major upset for Democrats, the closeness of the race will be a blow to Republicans and likely energize Democrats for future elections.Estes widens lead with most precincts reporting
Updated 10:45 p.m.
With 88 percent of precincts reporting, Estes has strengthened his lead by nearly 6,000 votes.
But the Associated Press has yet to call the race.
Estes pulls ahead
Updated 10:10 p.m.
With 63 percent of precincts reporting, Estes has pulled ahead with a 2,371-vote lead.
Estes, Thompson separated by less than 1,000 votes
Updated 9:43 p.m.
The race has significantly tightened with Estes only trailing by 703 votes.
The Kansas Republican has won seven counties so far, while Thompson still maintains a lead in Sedgwick County.
Big focus on Sedgwick County
Updated 9:27 p.m.
Again -- we should expect about 2/3rds of all votes to come from Sedgwick https://t.co/eUTnhQfP3Z— Kyle Kondik (@kkondik) April 12, 2017
Thompson’s lead tightens as rural counties roll in
Updated 9:23 p.m.
As rural county numbers roll in, Estes is starting to cut more into Thompson’s lead. He has now won Comanche, Kiowa and Pawnee counties.
Estes is now only trailing by a little more than 3,300 votes. All eyes will likely be on Sedgwick County.
Estes leading in four counties but still behind
Updated 9:00 p.m.
Results in Barber, Edwards and Butler counties show Estes with an early lead, but numbers haven’t changed much.
Estes won Pawnee County, which only cast 62 votes. He won 44 of those.
With 2 percent of precincts reporting, Thompson has 14,722 votes, while Estes’s vote total has climbed to 9,425.
Early vote numbers look good for Democrat Thompson
FiveThirtyEight analyst Harry Enten considers that the early vote numbers explain the GOP's last-minute push in Kansas.
I'm beginning to see why Republicans were freaking out about KS-4. Still time to turn it around in E-Day vote, but boy.— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) April 12, 2017
Thompson with very early lead as results trickle in
Updated 8:30 p.m.
With 1 precinct reporting, Thompson has a very early lead with 14,226 votes. Estes trails with 8,563 votes.
The first results of the night are coming from Sedgwick County, according to election results reported by the Kansas secretary of State's website.
That county includes Wichita, an urban area where Thompson will need to do well.
Polls closed at 8 p.m.
Updated 8 p.m.
The polls have closed in Kansas at 8 p.m. EST. According to the New York Times, the first results are expected around 8:30 p.m.
As the results start to roll in, keep an eye on Sedgwick County, where Wichita is based.
Race sees last-minute national support
Updated 7:45 p.m.
In order to avert a major upset by Democrats, Republicans dropped a lot of money in a last-ditch effort to save Republican nominee Ron Estes, including a robocall and a tweet from the president himself.
Still, Democrats in the state have been fired up about the campaign of Democratic nominee James Thompson. The civil rights attorney even got a last-minute contribution from national Democrats, who have mostly stayed out of a race that had until recently promised to be a Republican landslide.
They're hoping a close race — or even a shock victory — will boost momentum and mobilize voters in next week's highly anticipated Georgia special election, which Democrats see as both a potential referendum on Trump and much more winnable.
Libertarian nominee Chris Rockhold is also running for the seat.