Sharice Davids, the Democratic candidate in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, met with The Kansas City Star editorial board and answered questions about policy and politics. Here are highlights from the conversation:
What are some of the key differences between you and incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder?
Everybody that I talk to is concerned about health care. Right now we have a representative who has voted a lot of times to get rid of protections for pre-existing conditions. I think that the idea of making health care — making sure that there’s access to affordable quality health care for everyone is something that I know that I’m very committed to, and I question the commitment of Kevin Yoder on that, based on his voting record.
Should people make their decisions in this race based on Trump as opposed to the candidates’ specific positions on specific issues?
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One of things that we all recognize is that there’s no way for either person whether it’s the incumbent or a challenger as a candidate to put out every single position that they would have or be able to say this is the vote that I would make on this piece of legislation because there are too many variables there.
But I do think that people can look at … approach to problem-solving. What is the approach that the person would take?
Where do you fit on the spectrum of Democratic thought?
I feel like a more appropriate way to think about it is: What are the factors that I’m taking into account when I’m making a decision? At the base of every decision is who’s affected by it. ... I was just talking to a group of educators the other day, and they were asking questions about different policies, and none of them had ever participated in the policy-making piece of it. Part of what we’re missing right now is policy-makers who are trying to bring people to the table who are affected by the decisions.
How do you think U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder has fallen short?
... Not just because of the lack of town halls but also because of the number of people who’ve said, “I reached out to him and didn’t hear back.” [And on issues such as trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act] the voting record to me is a demonstration of a lack of listening ... in his decision-making process.
Why has it been so difficult to get the two of you on a debate stage together?
I don’t know, because I feel like one of the things we said very early on was we wanted to have an open public debate that doesn’t cost $40 to get into, and then I know we’ve gone back and forth on dates ... Frankly, I feel like this is a political gamesmanship situation.
You mention being extra careful, and of course that’s better than being extra careless, but are you too careful?
I think it’s an adjustment as a first-time candidate to go from being a person who is completely unknown to quickly realizing — what all of us say actually does matter, but ... the consequences of me not being very careful about what I’m saying can be very high right now and into the future because I’ve decided to go down this path of running for office. So I wouldn’t say that I feel constrained. It just feels like a new skill set.
During the debate last night between Josh Hawley and Claire McCaskill, there was an interesting exchange on whether voters deserve better than the current low level of discussion. Josh said it’s only Democrats who are to blame, and Claire said no, there’s blame on both sides. What do you make of that, and of Claire’s recent ad that she’s not one of those “crazy Democrats”?
I’m trying to get away from the use of the word “crazy.” When you look at the ads we put out, people have asked me, “When are you going to hit Yoder? I like your ads, but when are you going to hit him? When are you going to come after him?” And I’ve been telling people I’m not doing attack ads; I’m doing truth ads. I want people to know who is the person they’re sending to D.C., and I feel like I’m doing everything I can to make sure people know his voting record and where he stands on thing and where I stand on things. ... In a lot of ways, that’s all I can control is how I communicate to people.
What’s the appropriate response to the migrant caravan? In earlier caravans, a handful of people have ever even made it to our border, and they were seeking asylum.
… We should follow the laws as they exist. It is not illegal to show up and seek asylum.
… This is part of the partisanship issue that we’ve got right now. … I feel like one side’s blaming the other side for every single issue that comes up. It feels like this and every other issue is turned into something that is just hyper-partisan.