Paul Davis is a lifelong Kansan and the son of two teachers. His middle class upbringing was similar to that of many Kansans – modest, but rich in defining values like hard work, common sense, and a desire to live in fellowship with neighbors. After attending Lawrence public schools, Paul graduated from the University of Kansas, then earned a law degree from Washburn University in Topeka.
Paul spent the early years of his career as a liaison to state lawmakers at the Kansas Insurance Department. At the time, the agency was leading an unprecedented charge as a consumer watchdog. The department’s agenda included cracking down on HMOs that refused to cover legitimate medical expenses, helping Kansas seniors save millions on prescription drugs, and blocking a massive insurance company merger that would have prioritized corporate profits over affordable premiums for Kansas families and small businesses.
By 2003, Paul transitioned to the private sector. He entered the legal profession to help families and businesses solve problems and resolve conflicts in a fair and equitable way. Paul has practiced family law, estate planning, and advised small businesses, nonprofits and some of the largest corporations in Kansas. He’s been a proud member of his local chamber of commerce for almost 20 years and has as a firsthand appreciation for making a payroll and navigating burdensome regulations.
Paul’s wife, Stephanie, works as a psychologist specializing in trauma recovery for United States veterans. For years, she commuted two hours a day to provide assistance to veterans in 39 Kansas counties. Their young daughter, Caroline, attends the same elementary school Paul attended as a child, which is also the same elementary school his mother worked as a second-grade teacher.
At age 32, Paul was appointed to the Kansas Legislature. He was virtually unknown in his local community, but he quickly earned a reputation among his constituents for being responsive and engaged. He was re-elected without opposition from either major party five times.
Paul’s colleagues in the Kansas House of Representatives also took notice of his leadership abilities, electing him Kansas House Minority Leader at the height of the Great Recession. During his first term as leader, Kansas grappled with a $500 million budget shortfall despite six earlier rounds of budget cuts. After spending years cultivating friendships on both sides of the aisle, Paul was uniquely qualified to negotiate a commonsense budget deal. In both 2009 and 2010, he engineered the bipartisan passage of two state budgets that cut more than $1.2 billion in spending, protected vulnerable Kansans during an economic crisis, defeated an $85 million cut to Kansas schools, and still managed to fund a statewide transportation plan that was projected to create 175,000 Kansas jobs. He also led by example, voting to reduce his own office budget, end a lavish legislative travel program, and cut his own pay.