Emily’s List, a Democratic-leaning advocacy group that supports women in politics, has plunged into the crowded primary for Kansas’s 3rd Congressional District. According to media trackers, Women Vote!, the group’s PAC, is spending nearly $400,000 on advertising in support of Sharice Davids, a Native American activist and former White House fellow who entered the race in February.
The ad, “Ring,” leans heavily on Davids’s pastime as an amateur MMA fighter — a detail that has earned her plenty of national media. It also amounts to more than double what Davids herself had raised for the campaign, as one of six candidates battling for the right to challenge Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan).
And it marks the second attempt by Emily’s List to help a female candidate win the primary, in the only district across the Great Plains — the Dakotas, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma — that backed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. Last year, the group got behind Andrea Ramsey, a businesswoman who seemed to be quickly consolidating the support of moderate Democrats. In December 2017, Ramsey unexpectedly quit the race, buffeted by questions over the firing of a male former co-worker with whom she’d had a brief relationship.
Davids, who has roots in the district but was not initially recruited to run, jumped in three months later. But by that point, an effort to unite Democrats behind one candidate had fallen apart. Brent Welder, a former Bernie Sanders delegate who was running to the left, stayed in the race. Tom Niermann, a history teacher with support from local elected Democrats, jumped in before Davids and led her in fundraising. Mike McCamon, who had been adviser to Ramsey’s campaign, entered the race in March, after seeing the other candidates at a forum and walking away unimpressed.
“They carried their own kryptonite,” McCamon said in an interview last week. “Brent is too liberal for the district. Tom Niermann is a nice history teacher, but he can’t function in the shark tank. Sharice is inexperienced — and when you start pulling back the veneer, there’s not a lot there.”
Two other candidates, businesswoman Sylvia Williams and 2016 nominee Jay Sidie, round out the field. The primary will be held on Aug. 7.