Democrat Sharice Davids made history in multiple ways on Tuesday night as she delivered a stunning blow to Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas’s Third Congressional District.
Davids, a former mixed martial arts fighter and attorney, is the first Native American woman and the first lesbian Native American elected to Congress. She is replacing Yoder, who served four terms in Congress and voted for both the GOP tax cuts and the GOP attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
In her campaign, Davids tried to appeal to the district’s moderate, suburban voters by promising to shore up the Affordable Care Act rather than campaigning on Medicare-for-all, which one of her primary challengers embraced wholeheartedly. There’s a reason: Kansas Democrats and moderates might not be fully ready for democratic socialism.
“There’s a danger in embracing at least the symbols, if not the policy, of progressive Democrats,” Patrick Miller, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, told Vox this summer. “That’s not the product that voters are looking to buy. It’s the flip side of the Rust Belt ... whites with college degrees that cluster in suburbs are becoming more Democratic.”
But Davids was still carried by a blue resurgence happening in Kansas’s Third, a suburban district in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Kansas Republicans have been worried that dramatic spending cuts under the administration of former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback will backfire on them in 2018. Despite the state Supreme Court ordering funding increases, Kansas schools are still dramatically underfunded, and state Republicans have refused to implement Medicaid expansion.
Yoder was considered one of the more endangered House Republicans in the 2018 midterms. The district voted for Hillary Clinton by a 1-point margin in 2016.