MISSION, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids on Tuesday sought a third term as representative of her swing Kansas City-area district as Republicans hoped medium-term momentum would oust Kansas’ lone Democrat in the congressional delegation.
Davids faced a rematch with Amanda Adkins, her 2020 Republican challenger, after the GOP-led 3rd district redistribution became more difficult for Davids. Like other GOP congressional candidates, Adkins focused on crime, high inflation and other paperback issues, and attempted to tie the Democratic incumbent to President Joe Biden.
While Davids highlighted federal funding for local projects and efforts to reduce prescription drug costs, she and other Democrats aggressively attacked Adkins for abortion. Adkins supported a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas constitution, which voters across the state rejected outright in August, while Davids opposed it.
Davids was the first lesbian in Congress and is a lawyer and former mixed martial artist. She ousted four-year GOP incumbent Kevin Yoder at the 2018 halftime as suburban voters turned against then-President Donald Trump. Her measured personality has thwarted GOP efforts to portray her as radical liberals.
Adkins is a former executive at Cerner Corp. for Health Technology and former Chairman of the Kansas Republican Party.
Key to her race was the suburbs of Kansas City in Johnson County, the state’s most populous county. The county is leaning toward Republicans on voter registration, but Davids wore them in 2020. Adkins was hoping to win back independent and moderate Republicans there who were disgruntled with the economy.
Two retired Kansas City-area Catholic schoolteachers, Jim and Eladia Gilbert, in their 70s, voted for Adkins. They are fiercely opposed to abortion, side with conservative parents when it comes to what’s being taught in the classroom about sexuality and race, and see the US-Mexico border as too open. But the economy was a major concern.
“We’re watching our 401(k)s go down the drain,” said Jim Gilbert.
The Republican-controlled state legislature earlier this year redrawed congressional districts to rebalance their populations after a decade of shifts and to partition the Kansas City, Kansas area. David’s district lost areas where it did best and absorbed heavily Republican areas in three northeastern Kansas counties.
Had the new lines been in place in 2020, Davids and Biden’s 10-point lead would have been halved. And Republicans were counting on economic troubles that would help them close the gap this year.
But Democrats were energized by the state abortion vote in August. Adkins said abortion should be state-regulated and she would not support a federal abortion law. Adkins did not specifically comment on how far she thinks an abortion law in Kansas, which allows most abortions in the 22nd week, should go.
For Kansas City-area retirees Elizabeth and Dave White, both in their 60s, maintaining access to abortion was a crucial issue, and both voted for Davids.
“I don’t think other people should make decisions about a person’s body, male or female,” said Elizabeth Gilbert.
Despite the 3rd Circuit’s new, more Republican leanings, 67.5% of voters opposed the anti-abortion measure in August.
The state’s three other incumbent members of the US House of Representatives, all Republicans, should win re-election. You are Tracey Mann, in a redrawn 1st District that includes the liberal community of Lawrence in northeast Kansas along with rural central and western Kansas; Jake LaTurner in the 2nd Ward in East Kansas and Ron Estes in the 4th Ward in the Wichita area.
Hanna reported from Topeka, Kansas.
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