Democrats in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District have a difficult choice to make in Tuesday’s primary. Six exceptional candidates are competing to face U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, the almost-certain GOP nominee, in November.
Our choice for the Democratic nomination is Sharice Davids.
The Star’s endorsement is based in part on Davids’ policy positions. They fit comfortably within the party’s traditional platform — expanded access to health care, common-sense gun legislation, support for schools and families and opposition to tax giveaways for the wealthy.
But all the candidates in the Democratic field share similar views on the issues. That means voters must look to experience, intelligence, temperament and life history to make their choice.
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On these terms, Davids, 38, is clearly the best candidate in the field.
Davids was raised by a single mother. She attended Johnson County Community College and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
She earned a law degree from Cornell. After working here as a private attorney, she accepted an economic development job on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
In 2016, she was named a White House Fellow. When that service ended, she returned to Kansas to practice law.
Her biography — Davids is Native American, lesbian and a former mixed martial arts fighter — has drawn notice and national press.
And indeed, hers is an extraordinary story. Davids will bring a unique array of life experiences to Congress, which desperately needs different voices and world views. But she also has distinguished herself with her hard work and intellect.
Some have suggested she’s too liberal for the job and too liberal for the Kansas 3rd District. Our visit with her suggests the opposite — Davids is focused, informed, confident and more centrist than the campaign narrative suggests.
She’s also far too smart to think she has all the answers. She will be willing to listen to different views and seek compromise where possible, an essential quality for those who aspire to service in our national legislature.
“My lived experience has helped me learn how to listen better,” Davids said.
We were impressed with Democratic candidate Mike McCamon, whose work in new technologies would bring that important perspective to government. Like Davids, McCamon has a broad resume and a centrist approach to issues.
Tom Niermann, a teacher, also deserves consideration. He has argued that Washington must become more involved in providing quality schools. While we share his goal of improving education, state government is in a better position to do that work.
Many Democrats support Brent Welder. He’s clearly the most liberal of the six candidates, and in broad strokes his agenda — free college, “Medicare-for-all,” forgiving student loans — is attractive. But someone has to pay the bill, and Welder has been vague about funding his ambitious proposals.
Sylvia Williams has solid business experience that informs her political views. Jay Sidie, who ran in 2016, has been less impressive in this campaign.
As voters assess issues, experience and intelligence, they’ll see that Davids stands apart from the field. Her thoughtful approach to policy questions would serve the 3rd District well, and her nomination would send an important signal to the nation that Kansas is a place of tolerance and inclusiveness in an era when those qualities too often are lacking.
Kansas Democrats can send that message by nominating Sharice Davids on Tuesday.