Kansas City Star: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a GOP-leaning group, endorses Democrat Davids in Kansas race

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.”