Rep. Davids, the only Kansas Democrat in Congress, faces GOP challenger Adkins in rematch

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids on Tuesday sought a third term representing her Kansas City-area swing district as Republicans hoped midterm momentum would oust the lone Democrat in Kansas’ congressional delegation.

Davids faced a rematch with Amanda Adkins, her Republican challenger from 2020, after GOP-led redistricting made the 3rd District tougher for Davids. Like other GOP congressional candidates, Adkins focused on crime, high inflation and other pocketbook issues and tried to link the Democratic incumbent to President Joe Biden.

While Davids highlighted federal funding for local projects and efforts to lower prescription drug costs, she and fellow Democrats aggressively attacked Adkins on abortion. Adkins supported a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution that voters statewide decisively rejected in August, while Davids opposed it.

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Davids was the first lesbian Native American in Congress and is a lawyer and former mixed martial arts fighter. She ousted four-term GOP incumbent Kevin Yoder in the 2018 midterm as suburban voters turned against then-President Donald Trump. Her measured persona has frustrated GOP efforts to portray her as a radical liberal.

Adkins is a former executive with health care technology’s Cerner Corp. and a former Kansas Republican Party chair.

Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids addresses people attending a ceremony on April, 23, 2019, in Kansas City, Kansas.
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

The key to their race was the Kansas City suburbs in Johnson County, the state’s most populous county. The county leans Republican in voter registration, but Davids carried it in 2020. Adkins was hoping to win back independent and moderate Republicans there upset over the economy.

The Republican-controlled state Legislature redrew congressional districts earlier this year to rebalance their populations after a decade of shifts and split the Kansas City, Kansas, area. Davids’ district lost areas where she’s performed best and picked up heavily Republican areas in three northeastern Kansas counties.

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Had the new lines been in place in 2020, both Davids’ and Biden’s 10-point margins of victory would have been cut in half. And Republicans counted on economic issues helping them bridge the gap this year.

But Democrats were energized by the state abortion vote in August. Adkins said abortion should be settled by the states and that she wouldn’t support a federal abortion law. Adkins has not been specific about how far she thinks an abortion law should go in Kansas, which bans most abortions at the 22nd week, but said that she would favor any new, incremental state measures that would reduce the number of abortions.

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Even with the 3rd District’s new, more Republican leanings, 67.5% of its voters opposed the anti-abortion measure in August.

The state’s three other incumbent U.S. House members, all Republicans, were expected to win reelection. They are Tracey Mann, in a 1st District redrawn so that it includes the liberal northeastern Kansas community of Lawrence along with rural central and western Kansas; Jake LaTurner, in the 2nd District of eastern Kansas, and Ron Estes in the 4th District in the Wichita area.