By Adrienne Wahl
Paul Davis wants to replace the partisan rhetoric in Washington with a centrist approach.
He is campaigning to be the US Representative for the Kansas second congressional district that covers a great portion of eastern Kansas and stopped in Chanute Friday to visit with healthcare facilities Neosho Memorial Regional Hospital and Diversicare. Republican Lynn Jenkins currently holds the seat, but will not seek reelection.
Davis served for 12 years in the Kansas House of Representatives, representing his hometown of Lawrence. He also ran as the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014, but lost to incumbent Republican Sam Brownback. Davis feels that the current congress is out of touch with its constituents.
“Right now I see that congress is completely disconnected with the American people,” he said. “People are looking at Washington and shaking their heads.”
Davis called the current congress broken. He believes that the hardline partisanship plaguing Washington is counterproductive to actually accomplishing anything. He said that he was effective at reaching across the aisle and working with Republicans to build coalitions to get things done. He also said that the Citizens United decision brought an influx of money into campaigns, and he wants to work to get big money out of politics.
“People are answering to campaign contributors rather than constituents,” he said.
If elected, Davis wants to focus on what he described as kitchen table issues. Issues he identified as most important were healthcare affordability, infrastructure and making the economy work for everyone.
“We have an economy right now that really works for just the very few people at the top at the income scale,” he said. “It is not an economy that is working well for working families and the middle class.”
He believes that the economy is changing, and with that there is far more instability for working people, often hired in temporary or seasonal jobs. Automation is becoming more prevalent in manufacturing and the retail sector is being transformed by companies such as Amazon. His solution is to implement more support to train the workforce. According to Davis, there are 45,000 jobs that cannot be filled in Kansas because the skillset is not present. He praised Neosho County Community College for its ability to train students for careers.
“Neosho County Community College is one of the great success stories in America,” he said. “The federal government needs to do more to support institutions like Neosho County Community College.”
The cost of prescription drugs is another important issue, he said, and one that hits close to home for Davis. His father battled Parkinson’s disease and some drugs were more than a thousand dollars a month.
“So many seniors are drowning in prescription drug costs,” he said. “As Americans, we pay vastly more (for medicine) than any country in the world. The drug companies are running congress.”
He believes that the Affordable Care Act was helpful in getting more Americans insured, but did not do enough to ensure affordability. He is a proponent of expanding Medicaid in Kansas.
Maintaining and modernizing infrastructure is another issue on Davis’ agenda. Davis does not believe Kansas will be able to afford to maintain its roads and believes that the federal government will need to step in to help. He agrees with President Trump that a robust infrastructure package is necessary for the US.
He was neutral in his overall opinion on President Trump.
“As an American, I want to see President Trump succeed,” he said. “I want to work with him on things that are beneficial to Kansas, but I’m going to call him out on things that are harming our state and our country.”
An issue he is watching closely is Trump’s trade threats. Countries like China have threatened to retaliate with tariffs as high as 125 percent on Kansas crops such as soybeans.
“That will have an absolutely devastating effect on many, many farmers and communities in Kansas,” he said.
Davis believes that the current environment is ripe for change, but noted that there is a lot of time between now and November. He wants to focus on bringing people together. A lawyer by trade, he said that a lot of his involvement in politics comes from teachings of his parents, who he described as very involved in the community.
“My dad very much believed that the government should do things to help people’s lives,” he said.“We need people who are focused on getting results for the American people.”