Michael Ryan

Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids is hard not to like — and hard to pin down on policy questions

Sharice Davids at The Kansas City Star

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids talks about how she approaches representing Kansas' 3rd District in the House of Representatives. She spoke with The Kansas City Star editorial board on the morning of Aug. 22.
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U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids talks about how she approaches representing Kansas' 3rd District in the House of Representatives. She spoke with The Kansas City Star editorial board on the morning of Aug. 22.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids’ reputation as genteel, earnest and studious is, from all appearances, legit. She’s hard not to like.

Yet, even notwithstanding her short tenure in office, the Democratic congresswoman from Kansas’ 3rd District is hardly an open book. One Johnson County Republican I talked with seemed open to the possibility of supporting her, but said he still has no idea where she stands on the issues of the day.

“I would say the average Kansan in D3 knows almost nothing about her,” another said, “and has never heard her speak on any issue affecting them.”

Making Davids’ task more difficult and urgent is the fact that, for many in the center and right of American politics, her national party’s leaders and 2020 presidential hopefuls are simply way too liberal — and have been revealed as such even more in presidential debates since Davids took office in January.

Even some notables on the left feel that way: Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said this week that the party’s presidential field has gone much too far left on open borders and government-run health care.

Asked in a meeting Thursday with The Star’s Editorial Board what she thinks about Reid’s remarks, Davids agilely sidesteps the question like the MMA fighter she is, saying she hasn’t spent a lot of time watching the presidential race. Pressed specifically on open borders and “Medicare for All,” she says ambiguously that Medicare for All is “not where I’m at” — and deftly turns the immigration question toward children in detention centers not aligning with Kansas values and the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Great. But that wasn’t the question. To put it in her terms, the question is do open borders and single-payer government-run health care align with Kansas values? Or hers?

Many of her constituents would add a host of issues to Reid’s too-far-left lament about the leading Democrats, including abortion, sanctuary cities, taxes and wealth redistribution, impeachment, religious liberty and the ever-constant canard that if you disagree with them you’re just racist, hateful, xenophobic or all of the above.

Conservatives are dog tired of having their views and their integrity and their country run down, even as hundreds of thousands rush to get in illegally. If this place is so awful, if Americans are so mean and deplorable, how are we attracting this unending tsunami of migrants? Somebody needs to warn them what a colony of marmots awaits within.

Speaking of alignment, surely demonization of all things conservative doesn’t line up with Davids’ own Midwestern sensibilities. Nor did her sweeping campaign claim that “Republicans in Washington don’t give a damn about anyone like me.” In person, she just doesn’t come off as that indiscriminate.

Rather, she’s kind, diplomatic, thoughtful and measured. But the cumulative effect is evasiveness and a fuzzy picture of the person, which might be little more than a savvy political calculation in a diverse, divided, majority-Republican district.

She’s no doubt working hard, at home and in Washington. But voters deserve directness as much as diligence. And in Kansas, they should expect more delineations between the far-left Democrats on the national debate stage and the one they’ve elected to represent the heartland.

Sharice Davids is the most down-to-earth, normal member of Congress you’ll ever meet.

She just needs to be a little more real, too.

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