Sharice Davids, a Native American and openly lesbian who was a mixed martial arts fighter, won a U.S. House seat in Kansas on Tuesday, defeating incumbent Kevin Yoder.
Davids beat Yoder, a four-term Congressman, in the suburban Kansas City district, 53% to 43% in an upset.She is the only LGBTQ former athlete running for a federal office.
During the campaign, Davids embraced who she was and did not try to hide her sexual orientation.
”We are going to elect more women this year, we’re going to elect more people who are L.G.B.T., we’re going to elect more people who are people of color. This midterm election cycle is our opportunity to demonstrate who we are as a country,” she told the New York Times this summer.
Roughly a month before Election Day, Davids paid a visit to Q-Space, an LGBT youth group of 30 young people that meets weekly at Saint Andrew Christian Church in Olathe, Kansas.
Davids talked to the kids about coming out to her family, listened to their stories about bullying and offered words of comfort, said Cassandra Peters, the youth group’s director.
“She took time to hug each and every one of them and take a picture with them,” Peters said. “If they wanted a sign, she autographed it. And it was just so comforting for them to think this person is a politician and cares about them.”
Helping Davids with her campaign was former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, herself openly gay, who now runs the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
“Tonight Kansas voters gave the boot to a Trump ally and replaced him with a groundbreaking LGBTQ leader who spoke her truth throughout the campaign,” Parker said in a statement to NBC News.
“Sharice won the hearts of voters by putting forward a positive and solutions-oriented agenda while explaining how her experiences as a Native American LGBTQ woman influenced her policy positions and beliefs,” Parker added. “Sharice’s victory tonight will become a model for other LGBTQ leaders considering a run for office in red states or districts.”
With her victory, Davids joins New Mexico’s Deb Haaland, who also won Tuesday, as the first Native American women elected to Congress.
As an MMA fighter, Davids had a 1-1 record and last fought in 2014.