A clear choice in Kansas 2nd District: The Star endorses Paul Davis for Congress

Paul Davis speaks to The Kansas City Star editorial board

Paul Davis speaks to The Kansas City Star editorial board about the race for Kansas' 2nd District. He says he thinks the American people feels it isn't getting results from Congress.
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Paul Davis speaks to The Kansas City Star editorial board about the race for Kansas' 2nd District. He says he thinks the American people feels it isn't getting results from Congress.

Some political decisions are easier than others. For voters in the Kansas 2nd District, the choice for the open U.S. House seat is both easy and clear: Democrat Paul Davis is the superior candidate.

Davis has been a part of the political landscape in Kansas for years. He served in the Kansas House, including a stint as the minority leader. He was at the center of important policy debates during that time, including a valiant but largely unsuccessful effort to stem the worst fiscal excesses of former Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration.

He was the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor in 2014. “Davis understands Kansas and its issues very well,” we wrote, endorsing him in that race.

That experience and depth of knowledge are essential for the next congressman from the 2nd District, which stretches from the Nebraska border, through Topeka and east Kansas, then south to the Oklahoma border.

The 2nd District is conservative and rural. Davis understands this. He has said he will not vote for Rep. Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House if Democrats are the majority party next year; he has not made criticism of President Donald Trump a focal point in this race; and he has largely stayed clear of cultural wedge issues such as gun restrictions and abortion.

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That disappoints some Democrats, who would prefer more full-throated support for liberal ideas like single-payer health insurance. In the 2nd District, though, Davis’ more centrist approach makes sense.

Davis understands that most Kansans are angry and disappointed with gridlock in Washington. Bipartisanship, he says, is the way out.

“What Congress needs more than anything now is problem solvers,” he said. “People who are not afraid to work with the other party and find compromise.”

Davis would deserve voters’ support on his experience alone. He’s smart, well-qualified, in tune with the district and his state. He would also help build a potential Democratic majority in the House, where lawmakers could check some of President Donald Trump’s most indefensible actions.

But Davis is also the obvious choice for voters because his Republican opponent, Steve Watkins, is a deeply flawed candidate.

Watkins, who declined to interview with The Star’s editorial board, has made claims about his career that appear to be false, or at the least, greatly exaggerated. His Kansas voting record is poor, an issue raised by Republicans. He has no experience in politics.

His personal conduct has been questioned. His candidacy has largely been bankrolled by his father’s contributions to a political committee.

Even Republicans in his district have expressed concerns about Watkins (one called him a “charlatan”). That’s why three dozen prominent Republicans publicly endorsed Davis.

Kelly Standley, a Libertarian, is also on the ballot.

Kansans came close to electing Davis governor in 2014 because they recognized that his common-sense approach to policy and problem-solving would serve the state well. Voters in the 2nd Congressional District should cast their ballots for Paul Davis.

A note to our readers

The Kansas City Star continues to invest in local journalism with its candidate endorsements.

Members of The Star’s editorial board spent dozens of hours interviewing and reporting on candidates for office in Missouri and Kansas to provide informed analysis of the people who want to represent you. Learn more about the endorsement process here.

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