Longtime educator Tom Niermann announced Thursday he is the latest Democrat to enter the race for the congressional seat held by Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder.
Niermann, a 49-year-old teacher who lives in Prairie Village, joins a growing list of Democratic candidates in the 3rd Congressional District. The district includes the counties of Wyandotte and Johnson.
“I think it’s incredibly important for working families to have some representation, and I think in a lot of the policy discussions, and a lot of the legislation that is being crafted, it seems as though working families are often left out of that equation,” Niermann said.
Niermann grew up in Wichita and then went to Valparaiso University for his undergraduate degree. He said he then taught in Wichita and went to graduate school at Wichita State University, where he received a master’s degree in history. Niermann later earned a doctorate in history from the University of Kansas.
Niermann said he currently teaches American history at Pembroke Hill, a private school in Kansas City. He’s also taught in Lawrence and later at Blue Valley West High School and then in the Shawnee Mission district.
In an interview with The Star on Thursday, Niermann criticized Yoder’s recent vote for a Republican health care bill. An estimate from the Congressional Budget Office found the bill would “increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million in 2026.”
Niermann said his campaign will focus on health care, education and infrastructure. He also said he will have a focus on Wyandotte County.
“Wyandotte County reminds me an awful lot of the neighborhood I grew up in in Wichita,” he said. “And I often think that Wyandotte County has been ignored recently.”
Though the 2018 election is still more than a year away, Democrats have been circling the race in recent weeks.
Andrea Ramsey, a Leawood attorney who kicked off her campaign last month, has also criticized Yoder for his health care vote.
Other Democratic candidates who have filed for the 3rd district race include Reggie Marselus and Chris Haulmark.
Jay Sidie, who challenged Yoder in the 2016 general election and lost by almost 11 points, told The Star last month that he still planned to seek the Democratic nomination.
Clay Barker, the executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said he thought the Democrats in the 3rd district race have “false hope.”
“Bottom line is, I really don’t see any threat to Yoder right now,” Barker said. “It’s politics, anything can happen, but I don’t see a threat that would keep me up at night.”
The Star’s Bryan Lowry contributed to this report.