Democrat Sharice Davids defeated Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder in the race for Kansas third congressional district tonight. Davids, 37, will be among the first Native American women serving in Congress, and also the first lesbian to represent the state of Kansas in Washington. Yoder has been district’s representative since 2011.
At the beginning of the race, Davids’ chances of winning the seat were slim. In 2016, Yoder carried the district by more than 10 points. But Donald Trump’s sinking approval numbers in the district, as well as Davids’ moderate platform and appeal to everyday Americans, worked in her favor.
Davids, who was raised by a single mom who served in the Army, is a lawyer and worked as a White House fellow during the Obama-Trump transition. After returning home to Kansas’ 3rd district, which encompasses Kansas City and surrounding areas, she announced her run for Congress and went on to beat five other Democrats in the August primary. She earned endorsements from EMILY’s List, which supports pro-choice Democratic women, and the Kansas City Star.
Davids has never held public office before, making her a member of the historic wave of first-time female candidates this cycle. She ran on a moderate Democratic platform, with protecting the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing conditions as the cornerstone of her campaign against Yoder, who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act multiple times during his four terms in Congress.
In addition to being the first Indigenous lgbtq+ representative in Congress — she’s a member of Ho-Chunk Nation, a Native American tribe in Wisconsin — she is also the first female former professional Mixed Martial Artist to serve. She showcased her background in MMA in the campaign ad that launched her run.
Davids victory gets the Democrats one seat closer tonight in their bid to take back Congress.
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