Thursday, November 08, 2018

New Hope in the US House: Sharice Davids from Kansas

New Congresswoman Sharice Davids
The Kansas 3rd Congressional District elected a lesbian, native American, civil rights lawyer to Congress. Oh yeah, and she's also a mixed martial arts fighter. Sharice Davids tried out for Season 20 of The Ultimate Fighting Championship, a pay-for-view venue with a big following. She didn't quite make the cut, but she's been a successful professional fighter since 2013. Davids is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and graduated from Cornell University. And she's going to Congress.

Say what? A muscle-woman in the marble halls?

She's also the first openly gay member of Congress elected from Kansas, and she joins Debra Haaland of the New Mexico 1st District as the first ever Native American women elected to Congress.

The Kansas 3rd District is suburban Kansas City. Hillary Clinton carried the district in 2016, but Republican incumbent Tea Party Congressman Kevin Yoder held on too, even though Republican women in the suburbs (even in Kansas) had begun to get a stomachful of Twitterman. This year Yoder earned the full Trump endorsement -- tweets and in-person campaigning, which probably helped doom him. When reporters questioned Yoder during October 2016 about "grab 'em by the pussy," Yoder couldn't think of one critical thing to say about DJT. He had also voted very publicly to repeal the Affordable Care Act many times, but by 2018 that vindictiveness toward the poor and sick just seemed unnecessarily cruel. That apparent lack of moral compass bit Yoder in the pants.

Yoder served eight years in the Kansas state legislature before getting elected to Congress in the 2010 Republican wave. By this year, he had gotten some rank, especially on the Homeland Security subcommittee. That's over now.

If the woman fighter who beat him -- with over 53% of the vote, mind you -- can just develop some policy chops to go with her karate chops, she might become the kind of new voice we need in Congress.

FOOTNOTE: Who Helped Get Sharice Davids Elected?

In the 2016 campaign, Chris Gentry worked as a field team member for the Watauga County Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign. He was a ball of fire. In the 2018 campaign just past, Chris Gentry worked for the Progressive Turnout Project (PTP), an "independent expenditure" group headquartered in Chicago. This is their self-description:
Progressive Turnout Project is a grassroots-funded organization with a single mission: get Democrats to the polls. We design, test, and execute specialized voter turnout programs targeting inconsistent Democratic voters in the most competitive districts in the country. In 2017, our trained teams flipped 10 Republican House of Delegate districts in Virginia. In 2018, we’ll bring that same strategy to competitive districts across the country.
The key is recruitment and training, which means boots on the ground for direct voter contact. PTP raised the money to target many flippable districts this year (I count 24 district field organizers on the PTP website), and they hired experienced field managers willing to live and work in those targeted districts. Chris Gentry earned the privilege of running the Kansas 3rd. He was working totally independent from the Sharice Davids campaign (the PTP is one of those "Not Authorized by Any Candidate" groups that continue to proliferate since 2016). Chris stayed on the ground for months in Kansas, organized troops to knock doors and register voters, and he obviously helped sweep the table.

Watauga County salutes an alumnus of local campaigning, Chris Gentry!


O Suzannah said...

That is freaking awesome on both counts.

Anonymous said...

"she joins Debra Haaland of the New Mexico 1st District as the first ever Native American women elected to Congress.

Wait! What about Elizabeth Warren?

Anonymous said...

Wat to go Chris!

Brother Doc said...

So proud of this guy. What he puts his bright mind and generous heart to WILL get done and get done right.