Native American Lesbian Beats Republican Incumbent In Kansas House Race

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Sharice Davids became the first Native American woman elected to Congress on Tuesday after defeating four-term incumbent GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas by a wide margin.

Davids, a Democrat who also became the first openly gay lawmaker elected to federal office in Kansas, received 53 percent of the vote when the Associated Press called the race. Yoder trailed with just under 45 percent of the vote.

The tally is a drastic reversal for Yoder, who won his 2016 race by 10 points. He has won all of his campaigns by double digits, including his first campaign in 2010.

Yoder has been hampered by growing anti-Trump sentiment among many Republicans in the 3rd District, which encompasses Kansas’ wealthiest suburbs, just outside of Kansas City. (RELATED: Kansas Incumbent Republican’s $1.3 Million Cash On Hand May Not Be Enough In Hugely Expensive Race)

OLATHE, KS - FEBRUARY 26: U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) addresses the Prayer Vigil held for the victims of the Austins Bar and Grill shooting on February 26, 2017 in Olathe, Kansas. Adam W. Purinton has been arrested and charged in the shooting, which being investigated as a hate crime. An estimated 1,000 greater Kansas City community members attended the Peace March and Prayer Virgil. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images) Kevin Yoder

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder addresses the Prayer Vigil held for the victims of the Austins Bar and Grill shooting on Feb. 26, 2017 in Olathe, Kansas. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Yoder attempted to paint Davids as an extreme liberal, blasting ads accusing her of being soft on crime and noting that Davids expressed support for shutting down U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“I would, I would,” Davids said in a podcast interview in July when asked if she supported an end to ICE.

Davids later claimed that she supports reforming ICE rather than shuttering the agency. Asked about her previous comment, she claimed she was “just not being very articulate” in her response.

Davids‘ campaign focused heavily on her military background and path from community college to a fellowship in the Obama White House.

She also aired ads touting her short-lived stint as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. Davids fought to a record of 1-1 before ending her professional career.

Polls conducted just ahead of Tuesday’s election showed Davis with a high single-digit or low double-digit lead over Yoder, who was first elected to office in 2010. Predicting a difficult path for Yoder, the National Republican Congressional Committee in September cut $1 million in planned ad spending in the race.

With her win, Davids becomes the second openly lesbian member of Congress after Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. She is the first Native American elected to Congress in Kansas.

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