The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has officially endorsed Kansas Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids for re-election, a sign that the GOP-friendly business group expects Democrats to maintain their majority in the U.S. House.
The chamber, which represents U.S. business interests, spent $200,000 against Davids in 2018 when she took on incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder.
Two years later, the group is backing Davids over Republican Amanda Adkins in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, which covers Johnson, Wyandotte and Miami Counties.
Davids received a letter Tuesday afternoon informing her of the endorsement, citing her vote in favor of the USMCA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico as among the reasons the group was backing the Kansas Democrat.
“In challenging times, we are reminded of the importance of having leaders who understand the genius of the American system of government and free enterprise and who are willing to tackle the hard problems that confront our nation,” said Thomas J. Donohue, the chamber’s CEO, in the letter.
“Your continued leadership in Congress will benefit the nation as we combat the coronavirus, work to restore economic growth, and expand opportunities for all Americans,” Donohue told Davids in the letter she shared with The Star.
Davids said in a statement Tuesday evening that she was “proud to be endorsed by the U.S. Chamber for my work to support our small businesses, pass a strong trade deal to create good Kansas jobs, and rebuild our economy back stronger than before.”
She promised to “advance pro-growth policies that will help move our community forward, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.”
The endorsement was highly anticipated after Politico reported that the chamber would be endorsing 30 House Democrats. A source familiar with the endorsements confirmed Tuesday morning to The Star that Davids would be among those candidates.
The endorsement is a major blow to Adkins, a Cerner executive seeking to return the seat to GOP hands. Adkins’ campaign has largely hinged on her business experience.
Her campaign accused the chamber of making a mistake before the endorsement had been officially announced.
“Either the U.S. Chamber isn’t doing its homework, or it has some explaining to do to its Kansas City members,” Adkins’ spokesman Matthew Trail said in a statement. “Kansas City families can’t afford Sharice Davids’ radical, tax-and-spend agenda.”
The chamber’s endorsement of Davids could signal it’s unlikely that national GOP money will come into the district to aid Adkins.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has not yet committed to spending in the district ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. The race is currently rated as a likely Democratic hold by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
Davids has closely aligned with House Democratic leadership during her two years in Congress, but broke from the party in May when she voted against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s $3 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
Davids contended the bill was too broad and partisan.
The chamber’s endorsement comes the same day that Davids launched her first television ad of the election cycle. The ad focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the virus surged and the economy slowed down, I knew I couldn’t. So I’ve been talking with medical experts, businesses and Kansas families about ways to beat the virus, to protect health care and lower costs and ensure every Kansan in part of our economic recovery, not just the well-connected,” Davids says in the ad.
While the chamber is backing Davids and other House Democrats in anticipation that they maintain their majority, it is also working to ensure Republicans hold on the Senate.
The chamber endorsed Rep. Roger Marshall in the U.S. Senate race in June, saying at the time that Republicans must hold the Kansas seat to “to maintain a pro-business majority in the U.S. Senate.”
Representative Sharice Davids’ campaign today released their first TV ad of 2020, “Work,” highlighting Davids’ efforts to help Kansas families, workers, and small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic has shown that our economy and healthcare system need to change, and I’m committed to making sure those changes benefit hard-working Kansans, not just the well-connected,” said Representative Sharice Davids. “I’ve listened to the concerns of Kansas families, health care workers, and small businesses during this crisis and I’m pushing for real solutions to the challenges they’re facing. That includes access to affordable health care and paid sick leave, aid for small businesses, and oversight of relief funds.”
Davids led the charge to provide aid to small businesses and wrote legislation to require more transparency around relief funding so that it is directed to small businesses, not big corporations and well-connected companies that don’t need help.
She also fought to lower prescription drug costs and to expand access to affordable healthcare that will cover medical emergencies like coronavirus. Additionally, Davids is pushing for paid sick leave so that workers don’t have to choose between their health and their paycheck.
Democratic National Convention Vice Chair Sharice Davids (KS-03) will participate in the following series of events from Monday, August 17 to Thursday, August 20.
“I’m honored to serve as a Vice Chair of the National Democratic Convention as we unite around the critical task of electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris this November, so we can end the chaos of the Trump Administration and build a better future for all,” said Davids. “This is the most consequential election of our lifetimes. It’s about taking back our democracy – and this week we will show exactly why Joe Biden is the right person for the job.”
Representative Sharice Davids issued the following statement on the results of the Republican primary in Kansas’ Third Congressional District:
“I’ve worked hard over the past two years to tackle the issues most important to Kansas families – fighting to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs, invest in infrastructure to create jobs, and provide relief to our families, workers, and small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m confident that Kansans will vote to continue the progress we’ve made together, and reject Sam Brownback adviser Amanda Adkins’ plan to double down on the failures of the Brownback Administration that gutted funding for our public schools and decimated our economy, the effects of which Kansas families are still feeling today. Our country is experiencing an unprecedented crisis, and we need a leader in Washington who will work to move us forward, not drag us back.”
Kansas has a slate of important primary elections on Tuesday, setting up what could be one of the most competitive general election seasons in recent memory. From the presidential contest and an all-important Senate race to several House elections, the state is shaping up to be one of the more unlikely 2020 battlegrounds.
Why? Because Kansas, where the electorate tends to skew moderate, seems to be souring on President Donald Trump.
The New York Times reported private polling has shown a close race between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in the state. Trump won Kansas by more than 20 points in 2016, but a few months before the 2020 election, voters are pretty evenly split on the president’s job performance, according to Morning Consult. His approval rating has dropped by 20 points since he took office. In 2018, Democrat Laura Kelly won the governor’s race to put her party back in power for the first time in a decade.
This is a state where more than half of voters identify as moderate or liberal. And its population has been growing more suburban and urban, despite its prairie reputation.
“We have a big chunk of stereotypical suburban voters that are transitioning to be more Democratic now,” Patrick Miller, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, told me. “They’re not as comfortable today with the politics of the Republican Party, and a lot of them voted for Laura Kelly. Those voters carry a lot of heft.”
In all likelihood, the presidential election isn’t going to be won or lost here. If Joe Biden prevails in Kansas, he’s probably on his way to a landslide. But the battle for control of the US Senate could be decided in this state. And the general election campaign could look quite different depending on which Republican triumphs in Tuesday’s primary.
Kansas’s US Senate Republican primary
Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, US Rep. Roger Marshall, and businessman Bob Hamilton are the leading contenders for the Republican Senate nomination, vying for the opportunity to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Roberts.
Kobach is a well-known commodity and has been an immigration hawk for years. As Miller puts it, he was “Trump before Trump was Trump.” He served two terms as secretary of state before running for governor in 2018. But Kobach’s inflammatory rhetoric and hardline views have sometimes put him at odds with the more moderate Kansas electorate, and he lost the governor’s race. He hasn’t been able to raise much money for the 2020 Senate race, though as Recode’s Teddy Schleifer reported, libertarian tech billionaire Peter Thiel pumped almost $1 million into the campaign to support Kobach. But he does enjoy support among Kansas’s more conservative voters, which has kept him at the front of the primary field.
Marshall won his US House seat in 2018 before quickly being courted by the Republican establishment to run for Senate after the national party’s preferred choice, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, declined to enter the race. He is a party-line Republican; at times, he’s sounded open to reforms like a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, but he has also vocally supported Trump’s agenda. There is no getting to Kobach’s right on that particular issue, however, and so the primary campaign has assumed a familiar mainstream-versus-conservative tenor.
“He’s the kind of Republican that, if Republican leadership has negotiated a compromise spending bill with Democrats, Marshall is going to vote for it because leadership is going to vote for it,” Miller said of Marshall. “He’s not going to vote no on principle.”
According to the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senior Republicans have begged Trump to endorse Marshall over Kobach, fearing the latter would be more vulnerable in a general election after his 2018 loss. But Trump has so far not waded into the race and likely views Kobach as an ideological ally.
Hamilton, who started his own plumbing business in the 1980s, is the wild card. He’s put more than $3 million of his own money into the campaign, portraying himself as the archconservative outsider. Polling on the race has been sparse, with the last survey from June showing Kobach with a 9-point lead (35-26) over Marshall and Hamilton sitting in third with 15 percent.
At this point, the Kansas Senate race is likely to be somewhat competitive, in a state that hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1932, no matter who the Republican candidate is. Barbara Bollier, a state senator expected to easily prevail in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, has raised more than $7 million so far, much more than any of her potential GOP opponents.
“I think that’s really shocked people, to put that lightly,” Miller said. “I think she’s proving herself to be a better candidate than a lot of people wanted to give her credit for.”
But national forecasters expect the race to be tighter if Kobach, who has already lost a statewide election in the Trump era, wins the Republican nomination. Sabato’s Crystal Ball currently rates the Kansas Senate race Likely Republican, but that would change if Kobach emerges with the nomination.
“I do think a Kobach nomination endangers the Senate seat, and makes the overall GOP path to retaining a Senate majority harder,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor at the Crystal Ball, told me. “We will make the rating of Kansas more competitive if Kobach wins.”
Kansas First Congressional District Republican primary
Marshall is vacating his seat in Kansas’s First Congressional District so that he can run for Senate. The district, which covers most of western Kansas, has a strong Republican bent; the Cook Political Report rates it R+24, meaning it’s 24 points more Republican than the US overall. That means the winner of the GOP primary on Tuesday is all but assured to wind up in Congress next year. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates the district Safe Republican.
Tracey Mann, a former lieutenant governor, is considered the frontrunner, though Bill Clifford, a doctor and businessman, has spent more than $500,000 of his own money to try to make the primary competitive.
“I think people would be surprised if Mann didn’t win,” Miller told me.
The expected Democratic nominee after Tuesday’s primary, Kali Barnett, is “a good candidate in the wrong district” for the general election, Miller said. “If she gets 30 percent, that’s an accomplishment.”
Kansas Second Congressional District primaries
Oddly enough, it is the Republican incumbent in the Second District, which covers most of eastern Kansas besides the immediate Kansas City region, who is facing the most notable primary challenge.
Rep. Steve Watkins is currently facing felony charges for alleged voter fraud. Prosecutors have said he used an inaccurate address to vote in a 2019 municipal election, leading him to vote in the wrong city council election. Watkins has said the address mix-up was a simple mistake and called the charges “hyper political” and suspicious, according to the Kansas City Star, insinuating the prosecutor is trying to help his Republican primary opponent, Jake LaTurner.
LaTurner, 32, is the Kansas state Treasurer. He’s also received the endorsement of the Kansas Farmer Bureau, one of the most important interest groups in the state. LaTurner has criticized Watkins over the voting scandal, saying he is putting a winnable seat at risk. There has been no public polling heading into Tuesday’s election.
Whoever comes out of the GOP primary is expected to face Democrat Michelle De La Isla, mayor of Topeka. She has raised a healthy amount of money in the primary (more than $700,000) and could use her compelling life story — she had been homeless for a time in her native Puerto Rico before moving to Kansas, getting a college degree, and entering political life — to make the general election campaign a close one. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates the race Likely Republican, but some other forecasters like the Cook Political Report place it in a more competitive category.
“Her primary is just a formality,” Miller said of De La Isla. “Democrats are, I think, very interested in this district.”
Kansas Third Congressional District Republican primary
Rep. Sharice Davids is the Democratic incumbent. She took the seat in 2018, part of the wave that won her party control of the House.
“It’s your poster child for high-education, high-income suburbia, zipping off Democratic at warp speed,” Miller told me. “It’s hard to see Republicans seriously contesting a district like this.”
It’s still teetering on the edge of being competitive: Cook rates the district R+4 and Lean Democratic, though Sabato’s Crystal Ball is more confident in Davids’s chances, putting the race in the Likely Democratic column.
The Republican primary field, to determine who will challenge Davids, is cluttered. Three candidates — businesswoman Amanda Adkins, ex-nonprofit CEO Sara Hart Weir, and former mayor Adrienne Vallejo Foster — have raised at least six figures and have legitimate political credentials; Adkins notably served as an adviser to then-Gov. Sam Brownback.
The candidates in the Third District, Miller told me, are “falling over themselves to be as pro-Trump as possible.”
“That’s where they’ve come into conflict with each other,” he said. “Who’s the Trumpiest here?”
Given the changing political nature of the district, that could end up being a problem in the November race against Davids. But first, one of them must make it out of Tuesday’s primary.
Representative Sharice Davids will hold a General Election Kick Off event tomorrow, August 4, at 7 p.m. CT as polls close in Kansas. Davids will address supporters virtually about her work for the Kansas Third and her reelection campaign.
Representative Sharice Davids (KS-03) announced today her re-election campaign raised a groundbreaking $875,000in the second quarter of 2020. The campaign heads into August with over $2.4 million cash on hand.
“I’m proud of the overwhelming support and momentum our campaign has received over the past few months,” said Davids. “It’s clear that my work to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs, provide much-needed relief to our small businesses, and stand up to special interests in Washington is resonating with Kansans. I’m going to keep working on the issues that matter most to our community and reaching voters across the Kansas Third,” said Davids.
While Davids has focused her efforts on tackling the historic challenges facing Kansas families, her GOP opponents have continued their race to the right, supporting extreme policies more in line with Donald Trump and Sam Brownback than the Kansas Third.
Over 90 percent of Davids’ contributions received this cycle have been less than $100 – the latest sign of Davids’ grassroots strength.
Representative Sharice Davids along with Let America Vote founder Jason Kander and End Citizens United and Let America Vote President Tiffany Muller will hold a virtual roundtable Thursday, May 21, at 10:00 am Central to discuss voting rights during the coronavirus pandemic.
WHO: Rep. Sharice Davids, Let America Vote founder Jason Kander, End Citizens United and Let America Vote President Tiffany Muller
WHAT: Voting Rights Under COVID-19: A Virtual Roundtable
The Sharice for Congress campaign announced today that Sharice Davids raised over $579,000 in the fourth quarter of 2019, continuing her strong grassroots momentum into 2020. The campaign now has over $1.5 million cash on hand.
“The people of Kansas’ 3rd District sent Rep. Davids to Congress to address the issues that matter most to their families and communities, and that’s exactly what she’s done. From fighting to lower the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs to rooting out corruption in Washington, Rep. Davids has continued to put Kansans’ priorities first, and that’s why she has such strong grassroots support,” said campaign spokesperson Johanna Warshaw.
The Sharice for Congress campaign announced today that Sharice Davids raised over $567,000 in the third quarter of 2019. She raised more than both her opponents in Kansas’ Third District combined.
“Rep. Davids is fighting every day for the priorities of Kansans—from lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, to strengthening our public schools and investing more in roads and bridges to create jobs,” said campaign spokesperson Johanna Warshaw. “This campaign has such strong grassroots support because Kansans know Rep. Davids is working for them, not special interests.” The campaign now has over $1.1 million cash on hand.