James Thompson

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James Thompson


James Thompson is a civil rights attorney in Wichita, Kansas. He was a candidate for the Democratic Party for the 2017 special election held in the 4th Congressional District of Kansas, April 11, 2017. Thompson lost to Republican Ron Estes.[1]

He ran again in 2018.

Background

James Thompson's personal website claims that Thompson joined the Army after "[R]ising from homelessness in childhood,"[2] while The American Prospect claims that James Thompson "was briefly homeless as a teenager"[3]). While in the Army, James Thompson served as a member of the Presidential Honor Guard.

After his honorable discharge, he moved to Kansas to be close to family. He used the GI Bill to afford his education at Wichita State University and went on to earn his J.D. at Washburn Law.

After graduation, he married Lisa Thompson, and is the father of Liberty Thompson.

DSA Renegotiate NAFTA petition

In 2009, a James Thompson signed a petition calling on President Barack Obama to Renegotiate NAFTA. The petition was initiated and circulated by Democratic Socialists of America.[4]

Congressional run

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"Tuesday April 11 2017, James Thompson will be the first Democrat to test the political waters of a federal election since Donald Trump won the presidency five months ago. He is vying to represent Kansas’s Fourth Congressional District, a seat Representative Mike Pompeo held until Trump drafted him to head the CIA earlier this year. The seat has been in Republican hands for more than two decades, and Pompeo retained the seat by more than 30 points in each of the past three elections. Last November, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton there by a 60 percent to 33 percent margin. It’s a deep red district in a deep red state, where the left has not challenged in years.
"He believes that, for the first time in more than a decade, voters in Kansas have soured on the radical conservatism that swept Sam Brownback into the governor’s office and led the Sunflower State down a years-long path of aggressive tax cuts and far-right social policies.
"But Thompson, a civil rights lawyer, exudes confidence. He believes that, for the first time in more than a decade, voters in Kansas have soured on the radical conservatism that swept Sam Brownback into the governor’s office and led the Sunflower State down a years-long path of aggressive tax cuts and far-right social policies. Thompson also sees a historically unpopular president and a vibrant grassroots effort to oppose Trump’s policies, led by the Indivisible groups and others, that have adopted his campaign as their first battle against the president and the Republican-controlled Congress. He says he can feel a shifting political wind at his back.
"Just days before the election, Thompson had attracted more than 7,000 individual campaign donations. He says that as far as he can tell, that’s the most ever in a congressional race in Kansas, special election or otherwise. His opponent, the state’s Republican treasurer Ron Estes, has run a comparatively quiet campaign, skipping most debates and quietly picking up the expected endorsements—the NRA, Kansans for Life, and so on.
"Thompson, by contrast, has been pitching his story to voters without pause. A few weeks ago, Thompson, backed by a wall of beer barrels at Central Standard Brewing, just east of Wichita's Old Town, was talking to prospective voters from the Young Professionals of Wichita. Wearing a cross-class combination of work boots, blue jeans, collared shirt and sport coat, his glasses and beard topping his stocky frame, Thompson delivered his origin story with a breezy, Midwestern bluntness: He grew up in Oklahoma City, at times in deep poverty. He was briefly homeless as a teenager, but went on to graduate high school and join the Army in pursuit of funding from the GI Bill that would help him afford college.
"After he left the military in 1994, he moved to Wichita, where his grandparents live, and attended Wichita State University.
"With just three months to campaign for the seat, Thompson settled on a platform that tugs from both sides of the state party—in part because it comes naturally to him, and in part because both pitches work in Kansas. He says he agrees with a lot of what Senator Bernie Sanders stands for—particularly his support for working people, better jobs and higher wages—and he has attracted Sanders supporters from the state’s major universities, who have staffed his phone banks and knocked on doors.
"At the same time, he has branded himself a middle-of-the-road politician, someone who was encouraged to run by his friends on both the right and the left, and has attracted campaign volunteers from both parties. He’s a truck-driving, blue-collar Army veteran. [5]

Bernie connection

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James Thompson, Rhonda Cox, Bernie Sanders

James Thompson was inspired to run by Bernie Sanders.

Campaign manager

Thompson's campaign managers have been listed as Colin Curtis and Chris Pumpelly.

Socialist connections

Wichita Democratic Socialists of America very actively supported James Thompson's congressional races in 2017, and 2018.

Enlisting support

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Donna L. Wirth shared a link to the group: Wichita Democratic Socialists, March 1;

Indivisible and the James Thompson campaign could use our help. They are trying to get outside funding for James Thompson’s campaign, through organizations such as Sister District and MoveOn.org. They have a poll to collect the data they need, but they need a sample size of at least 700...

Field Director

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Democratic Socialists of America supporter Rhonda Cox served as James Thompson's Field Director. James Thompson for Kansas, February 15 ·

Our Field Director Rhonda Cox shows volunteer Logan and James the process for knocking.

Our Revolution endorsement

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James Thompson was endorsed by Our Revolution.

Socialist staffer

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Members of the Wichita Democratic Socialists of America, public Facebook group, as of November 20, 2017 included Stephanie Yeager.[6]

She is a staffer for James Thompson for Congress.

Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez support

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will make campaign swing through Kansas starting July 20 2018, rallying for two congressional candidates who argue that left-wing politics are the key to winning in red states.

“I’ve believed for years that the Democratic Party has committed political malpractice by writing off half the states in this country,” said Sanders in an interview, as he campaigned in Minnesota for Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). “They’ve got to fight for every state in this country.”

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez will head to Kansas on July 20. They’ll begin in Wichita, where James Thompson, who narrowly lost a special election in 2017, wants another chance to win the 4th Congressional District. They’ll continue with an event in the Kansas City suburbs for Brent Welder, a former Sanders delegate now seeking the Democratic nomination in the 3rd Congressional District.

Both districts are now held by Republicans who’ve voted reliably with their party — Reps. Kevin Yoder and Ron Estes. The 3rd District voted narrowly for Hillary Clinton in 2016; the 4th District, which is strongly Republican outside of Wichita, voted for Trump. In a short interview, Thompson said he would relish it if Estes and Republicans criticized him for campaigning with self-identified Democratic Socialists.

“I’m extremely, extremely excited to have the senator and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in town for an event,” Thompson said. “They can say that, but my opponent here is a corporate socialist who’s been redistributing wealth to people who don’t need it.”

Sanders, who first talked to Ocasio-Cortez the day after she won her upset primary victory in New York, said that the tour came about after both realized they wanted to head to Kansas.[7]

DSA endorsement

"I don't like the term socialist, because people do associate that with bad things in history," said Kansas congressional candidate James Thompson, who is endorsed by the DSA and campaigned alongside Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, but is not a dues-paying democratic socialist. "There's definitely a lot of their policies that closely align with mine."

Thompson, an Army veteran turned civil rights attorney, is running again after narrowly losing a special election last year to fill the seat vacated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Even in deep-red Kansas, he embraces policies like "Medicare for all" and is openly critical of capitalism.[8]

DSA canvassers

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Wichita Democratic Socialists is at James Thompson for Kansas. August 4 at 8:03 PM · Wichita, KS ·

Join us at 10am at the James Thompson Campaign Office to canvass before the primary August 7th! 555 N Woodlawn, Building 1, Suite 130 Wichita, KS 67208 (rear side of the building from Woodlawn, downstairs, look for the Thompson signs!). RSVP if you can! If you haven't canvassed before it's easy and they will train you! It's a great time to get involved!

Democracy for America

James Thompson, U.S. House, Kansas 4, was endorsed by Democracy for America in 2018.

References