The state Objections Board on Monday decided that Republican Congressman Ron Estes will be on the ballot with his title to distinguish him from another candidate with the same name in the Republican primary.
The board – made up of the secretary of state and representatives of the lieutenant governor and the attorney general – rejected a request from a Democratic candidate running to unseat Estes in the 4th Congressional District.
Laura Lombard argued it was unfair to add the abbreviation “Rep.” in front of Estes’ name on the ballot because it would transfer to the general election when he would have an advantage against a Democratic challenger.
State law generally prohibits candidates from using prefixes or suffixes next to their name unless they’re needed to more clearly identify the candidates from each another.
In this case, Secretary of State Kris Kobach allowed Congressman Estes to use his title on the ballot when challenger Ron M. Estes – the self-described “Real Ron Estes” – filed to run for Congress in the Republican primary.
But Lombard contended that the nonelected Estes is already differentiating his name with his middle initial “M.” She said the congressman could identify himself by using his middle initial “G” or his full first name on the ballot.
“Congressman Estes had multiple options of how he could differentiate himself other than using this title – Ron G. Estes, Ronald Estes, Ronald G. Estes, Ron Estes, Jr., Ron G. Estes, Jr. – or most effectively running, as he originally planned to and as he is known: Ron Estes,” she told the board.
“He simply could inform his supporters to not vote for the guy with a middle initial. No need to incur costs to change promotional materials, website, or branding of any kind.”
The board disagreed.
Kobach disputed Lombard’s argument that state law required the prefix to transfer to the general election if he won the primary.
He said the congressman would only be allowed to use the prefix during the primary election.
The congressman’s spokesman said the Objection Board’s decision helps bring clarity to the race between the two Esteses.
“We’re here today because it’s an attempt to sow chaos in the electoral process,” said Congressman Estes’ spokesman Josh Bell.
“We have concerns about this imposter candidate,” Bell said. “This is not his first attempt to impersonate Rep. Ron Estes. This is an attempt to mislead voters. It is making a mockery of the electoral process.”