Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder won’t attend President Donald Trump’s campaign stop in Topeka this weekend, he said Wednesday, citing a scheduling conflict in Johnson County.
Yoder, who is facing a tough re-election fight against Democrat Sharice Davids, said he’d be attending a dinner for Advice & Aid Pregnancy Centers in Overland Park. He confirmed the conflict at a candidate forum in Johnson County that Davids had been expected to attend. She withdrew from the forum.
Though Trump won Kansas by a wide margin, Yoder’s district representing suburban Kansas City supported Hillary Clinton. Yoder said he didn’t see Trump as a liability in his tight re-election race.
“I was just with the president at a (Veterans of Foreign Wars) rally where we were talking about our support for veterans about a month ago,” Yoder said. “My position has been I will work with the president whether it’s Barack Obama, whether it’s Donald Trump. My goal is to work to get things done for this district.”
Trump is expected to be in Topeka Saturday for a Make America Great Again rally at the Kansas Expocentre to boost Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s campaign for governor and GOP nominee Steve Watkins’ run for the 2nd District.
Trump has previously thanked Yoder for his efforts to boost spending on border security. But unlike Kobach, Yoder has at times distanced himself from the Trump administration’s decisions on immigration policies.
A day after he flew to Kansas City with Trump on Air Force One in July, Yoder joined Democrats pushing for an investigation into the administration’s separation of more than 2,500 migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. He also supported making it easier for immigrants to claim asylum if they feared domestic or gang violence, drawing criticism from Kobach.
National Republicans may be pulling back from Yoder because of anti-Trump sentiment in the district.
Stephanie Sharp, a former Kansas state lawmaker and political consultant who works with moderate Republicans, said Yoder should skip the event, citing disgust with Trump on the part of suburban women.