Sharice Davids made history two years ago as the first openly gay person to be elected to the U.S. Congress from Kansas. And now, the Native American and former MMA fighter is nearly a lock to win reelection.
It shows how quickly surprises can become institutions.
Davids, who is a Democrat, defeated Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder, a four-term Congressman, to represent the suburban Kansas City district. She received 53 percent of the vote in the upset victory.
During her time in office, Davids has distinguished herself as a constituent-focused lawmaker, writes the Kansas City Star.
In an Outsports Pride Month conversation about transitioning from athletics to politics, Davids said her experience as a Native American woman and LGBTQ person allows her to empathize with others.
“When I’m talking to folks, I recognize that somebody else’s experience is just as real and valid as my experience,” she said. “And I recognize that, because I want other people to see my experience as real and valid.”
After attending community college, Davids graduated from Cornell Law school. In addition to a nascent legal and business career, Davids competed in the squared circle. She finished with a 1-1 record as a professional fighter. Her last match came in 2014.
During her 2018 campaign, Davids was unapologetically herself, embracing her Native American and LGBTQ identities. She joined New Mexico’s Deb Haaland, who’s also expected to win reelection, as the first Native American women elected to Congress.
”We are going to elect more women this year, we’re going to elect more people who are LGBT, we’re going to elect more people who are people of color,” Davids told The New York Times.
Davids was right: the LGBTQ wave in 2018 was only the beginning. A record number of LGBTQ candidates are running for office this year.
At least 574 LGBTQ candidates are expected to appear on the ballot for the Nov. 3 election, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund supported Davids in 2018. Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who now runs the organization, helped Davids with her campaign.
At the Pride Month panel, Davids said her motivation to run stemmed from her dissatisfaction with Yoder’s representation.
“I just felt like our member of Congress was not representing us,” she said. “It didn’t feel like he reflected the sentiment or issues of the district.”
Above all else, Davids says she wants to make a difference in her community. But her place in Congress carries national significance, too.
As we write about all of the time, visibility matters. That’s true on the field and within the halls of Congress. It’s also fair to say Davids’ visibility takes on a particular significance, because she’s about to easily win a second-term in a red state.
It shows LGBTQ people belong.
“We need more people with a variety of backgrounds and lived experiences running for office,” Davids said in June.
Her continued success promises to ensure that happens.