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No matter the outcome of Tuesday’s GOP primary for Kansas’ 4th Congressional District, Ron Estes was the winner. The only question is, which one?
Republican Ron Estes was faced with an unlikely challenger: Ron Estes, a first-time candidate who has dubbed himself “the Real Ron Estes” in campaign materials and on Twitter.
The incumbent appeared on the ballot as "Rep. Ron Estes," alongside opponent "Ron M. Estes." The congressman’s campaign staff said it hoped voters could tell the difference.
“Our campaign has focused entirely on letting voters know just that their congressman is listed as 'Rep. Ron Estes,'” Josh Bell, a spokesman for Congressman Ron Estes’ campaign, told ABC News.
“The other guy -- we’ve branded him as ‘The Imposter.’ Our terminology to remind voters is, ‘M is for misleading,’” Bell said.
Meanwhile, the "Real Ron Estes" campaign insists that “M is for ‘Merica.”
In the end, despite the confusion, the incumbent Ron Estes appears to have claimed victory. The current representative took 81 percent of the vote to Ron M. Estes' 19 percent, according to the Kansas secretary of state's website. The vote has yet to be certified, but 100 percent of precincts are in.
Ron M. Estes’ campaign could not be reached for comment. The campaign website, however, stresses the corruption of Beltway politics.
“The incumbent has become the epitome of the DC Swamp. I believe Kansas Republicans deserve a Rep. Ron Estes who will show up and represent Fourth District Kansans,” it reads.
Bell said the sitting congressman’s campaign suspects foul play, calling the campaign an example of Democrats’ “dirty tricks.”
“The Imposter’s not doing any aggressive campaigning, he doesn’t even have yard signs, he’s refused most media requests. He’s not doing anything other than trying to confuse voters,” Bell said.
Federal Election Commission filings show that Rep. Ron Estes has raised $1,401,847.44 in campaign contributions, while Ron M. Estes has raised just $0.23. (The challenger did, however, lend himself $2,078 to fund his own bid).