We endorsed Sharice Davids to be the Democratic nominee in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District not knowing if she’d win or finish closer to the bottom among the six candidates competing to go up against Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder in November. Bernie Sanders-endorsed progressive Brent Welder raised almost twice as much cash in the primary campaign, and moderate high school history teacher Tom Niermann raised even more. It was Welder who was all over national media.
It was Davids herself — her seriousness and her thoughtful answers in her interview — that made her such a standout in a field of fine candidates with only minor policy differences. So hearing from Yoder about her “radical ideas” is jarring, if in no way unexpected. Neither is Yoder the “extremist” Davids describes; on the contrary, it’s his minute-to-minute malleability that we’ve criticized.
They do have extremely different ideas, however, and plenty to debate. So we’re going to dare to hope not to hear any more of Yoder’s dog-whistling that she’s not from around here. In what sense?
At his election night celebration, before it was clear Davids had won, Yoder said of Davids and Welder that “neither of them are from around here, and both want to force their radical ideas on those of use who have dedicated our entire lives to this community and this state.”
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As a Native American, oh yes, Davids is very much from here.
As a graduate of Leavenworth High, where she lived until her single mom retired from the Army there, and of Johnson County Community College, yes, she is from around here.
As someone who graduated from Cornell Law, was in private practice, worked on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and then was a White House fellow, she could have gone anywhere but chose to come back to Kansas. So yes, she is from around here.
Davids and Welder “don’t know Kansas,” Yoder told the crowd on election night. “They don’t know our values.”
He could not have been knocking the work ethic of a woman who worked her way through college and law school, or the discipline of a former mixed martial arts fighter.
We hope he wasn’t talking about the fact that she’d be the first Native American woman elected to Congress and the first openly LGBT person to represent Kansas.
There is still more voters will need to know about this first-time candidate, and we are a long way from deciding on an endorsement in this fall’s 3rd District race. But the values we saw in her included the pragmatism that she said would compel her to focus on fighting corporate tax giveaways and delivering health care for her constituents instead of on impeaching the president.
“I wouldn’t call myself a very moderate Democrat, but I am a very pragmatic Democrat” who, yes, will work with all kinds of people and “have the hard conversations that we’ve been missing.” Those start now.