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Democrat U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids cruises to reelection with big Johnson County margins

Sharice Davids speaking in front of an American flag.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids is greeted by supporters at her election party.

Voters in the newly drawn and politically evolving Kansas 3rd Congressional District elect chose between one candidate campaigning heavily on abortion rights and the other focusing on economic issues.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids was reelected to a third term in Congress on Tuesday, carried to victory by overwhelming margins in Johnson County.

She’ll return for another two years representing most of the Kansas side of the Kansas City area on Capitol Hill. Republican Amanda Adkins, a fixture in Kansas GOP circles for years, suffered her second defeat to the Democratic incumbent.

Unofficial vote totals showed Davids leading with about 55% of the vote to 43% for Adkins. Libertarian Steve Hohe was drawing about 2%.

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Davids survived what was expected to be a national Republican wave election in a campaign where she touted millions of federal tax dollars spent in Kansas for targeted government projects, programs supporting small businesses and help for citizens hurt by the pandemic.

“Serving in Congress right now when we are facing such serious and huge threats to our institutions, to our rights, it does feel like we are watching history in the making,” Davids told supporters Tuesday night. “When we look back on this moment in time decades from now, everyone in this room and everyone who made their voices heard in this election is going to be able to say that when history called on us, this community answered proudly.”

People celebrating at an election watch party.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Supporters cheering when they heard that U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids was reelected.

Davids raised and spent more than twice as much as the challenger, and used much of the money to paint Adkins as an anti-abortion rights zealot.

Adkins fared worse than in 2020. Adkins did not concede to supporters at her watch party, instead focusing on what she called a “unbelievably negative” race, opting not to mention Davids by name.

“I can say on behalf of myself and my family, my campaign team, that in everything we have done, we have been intellectually honest,” Adkins said. “We have been loving, we have been kind, and we absolutely have been focused on the people of this district and the importance of public service.”

Adkins said she would remain active in the community despite the loss.

“Regardless of what happens tonight, we have real problems in this country that remain unsolved,” she said. “Those of us who are believers, those of us who build and seek to solve problems in this country, have to carry forward.”

The rematch of the two candidates came in a race transformed in fundamental ways this year.

Amanda Adkins speaks to supporters at a lectern.
Noah Taborda
/
KCUR 89.3
Republican Amanda Adkins lost her second bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids.

Redistricting

Kansas lawmakers reset the boundaries of the 3rd District, carving off the most reliably Democratic part of it, northern Wyandotte County, and swapping in reliably Republican Franklin and Anderson counties, plus half of Miami County that wasn’t in the district before.

Johnson County still accounts for almost 80% of the people in the district. It’s one of the more well-educated and upwardly mobile districts in the country, and reflects a demographic that has been increasingly favorable to Democrats in the age of Trump.

And the district continued its blue tilt even in the midst of a midterm election that would tend to favor Republicans.

For most Americans, surging inflation pushed other problems off the table. Adkins tied high prices directly to President Joe Biden and Davids, whom she said backed Biden spending plans “100% of the time.” Biden’s approval ratings have been polling in the low 40s, about the same favorability ratings as former President Donald Trump generated in the middle of his term.

Abortion rights

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dodds decision that ended federal abortion rights this summer, Kansas voters trounced a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have paved the way for a ban. The amendment fell hardest in the 3rd District, and that surprise vote reset the congressional race.

Davids pounded Adkins with advertisements claiming that the Sam Brownback ally was pushing a total ban on abortion. Adkins pushed back. She said that while she supported the failed state constitutional amendment, she did not favor a federal abortion ban. Adkins’ ads accused Davids of being in favor of taxpayer-funded abortions.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
Noah Taborda started his journalism career in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, covering local government while earning his bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.