By Jim McLean
Kansas News Service
Political forecasters attempting to gauge the chances for a power shift in Congress are watching several key 2018 races across the country, including two in Kansas.
In the 3rd District, several Democrats are competing for the right to challenge four-term Republican Kevin Yoder, and in the 2nd District, a former Democratic candidate for governor hopes to claim an open seat.
Democrats challenging Yoder have the advantage of running in a district that Hillary Clinton carried over President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, albeit by a single percentage point.
Paul Davis, the former Democratic leader in the Kansas House, has what might prove to be a bigger advantage in the 2nd District, which covers roughly the eastern third of the state. He carried it by six points in his unsuccessful 2014 bid to unseat Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.
“His challenge is to replicate that and really get back that center-to-right support that can carry him over.” — Patrick Miller, KU political scientist
That strong showing and the fact that at the end of the first reporting period Davis had raised more campaign cash than his Republican rivals combined suggests that he is capable of winning the seat, said University of Kansas political scientist Patrick Miller.
“Clearly Paul Davis showed that he could appeal to some of those right-leaning voters in 2014,” Miller said. “His challenge is to replicate that and really get back that center-to-right support that can carry him over.”
Davis, a partner in a Lawrence law firm, is hopeful but cautious.
“Obviously I wouldn’t be in the race if I didn’t believe we had a good opportunity to win,” Davis said. “I also know that I’m a Democrat in Kansas and things are never easy.”
If Davis can get by Kelly Standley, a small-business owner from St. Paul, in the primary, he plans to court independent and moderate Republican voters by pledging to cross the aisle to forge compromise solutions on health care, taxes, the environment and a host of other key issues.
“You know, we’ve got plenty of people on both sides of the aisle in Washington that are just sitting on the end of the political spectrum, just providing more and more noise,” Davis said. “What we need right now are people who are going to be Kansans and Americans first and not Democrats and Republicans.”
GOP field lacks big names
When Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins decided not to run for a sixth term, she expected that several high-profile Republicans would jump into the race to succeed her.
That didn’t happen.