“This is Sharice’s show,” Kansas Third District Democratic chair Andy Sandler said at a unity rally Wednesday.
Nowhere was that more obvious than when the congressional candidates were introduced to the crowd one by one. The applause seemed to correspond to their share of the vote, and Sharice Davids, Tuesday’s winner, was announced last. She got a standing ovation.
Each candidate agreed last week to show up — win or lose. The only no-show for the rally at Park Hall in Kansas City, Kan., was 2016 nominee Jay Sidie, who finished with 3 percent of the vote.
The unity rally’s unifying element appeared to refer to unanimous disapproval of Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder and President Donald Trump. Behind the podium was a big blue sign that said “DE-YODERIZE CONGRESS” with four exclamation marks. A podium was front and center with three chairs on either side.
“If you’d like to say something, we’ll go from right to left,” Sandler said from the podium to the candidates behind him. “Because that’s what Democrats do!”
When second- and third-place finishers Brent Welder and Tom Niermann spoke, a slight tang of dejection was obvious, but they fought throughout to project optimism and support for Davids.
Welder, who was joined at the podium by his young daughter, pledged to do everything he could to help Davids defeat Yoder, whom he called “unacceptable.”
“We’re going to turn the 3rd District blue, the state of Kansas blue, and America blue,” he said to applause. “And the world blue!” he finished with a flourish, lifting a fist into the air. He then said he was on “Daddy duty” and needed to leave. He hustled offstage and left the event without taking any questions.
The star of the show spoke last.
“We all got into this because we knew Kevin Yoder needed to be unseated because he does not represent the 3rd District,” Davids said. “He does not represent the things that we stand for, our values, and he certainly wasn’t taking our voice to Washington, D.C.”
She pledged to ensure “that we have a strong voice in Congress that lets them know that we are not about the hateful rhetoric that we hear coming out of the White House. That we hear coming from Mike Pence and Donald Trump. We are about inclusion. We’re about opportunity for every single person in this district and this country.”
She finished with a pledge to meet with the defeated Democrats to learn from them so she can serve the district better.
When she was done, Sandler took the stage again.
“Thanks for coming, everybody. We can’t do it without you,” he said. “And we can’t do it without your money!”