Ex-MMA fighter could become first lesbian Native American congresswoman

Sharice Davids supports expanded health care access, gun control and opposes President Donald Trump's tax breaks

Daniel Victor
Thursday 09 August 2018 13:04 BST
Ex-MMA fighter Sharice Davids could be America's first lesbian Native American congresswoman

If Sharice Davids prevails in November, she would represent several firsts in Congress, she would be the first lesbian congresswoman from Kansas and she would be be one of the first Native American women in Congress.

Deb Haaland, who won the Democratic primary in New Mexico, could also be elected in November, but Ms Davids would be the first congresswoman who was once a professional mixed martial arts fighter.

She became the Democratic nominee in the 3rd Congressional District in Kansas earlier this week. That sets her up against the incumbent Kevin Yoder, a Republican who has served since 2011.

Ms Davids defeated five other Democratic candidates, including Brent Welder, who earned support and a campaign rally appearance from two stars of the progressive left, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic nominee in New York’s 14th Congressional District.

Ms Davids, a lawyer who spent a year as a White House fellow as Barack Obama handed off to Donald Trump, campaigned on a conventional Democratic platform, including expanded health care access, gun control and opposition to the current president's tax breaks.

A member of Ho-Chunk Nation, a Native American tribe in Wisconsin, Ms Davids was backed by Emily’s List, a national organisation dedicated to electing Democratic women.

In a statement she called Mr Yoder “a pawn for Donald Trump.”

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“Now, we turn to the general election and set our sights on defeating Kevin Yoder, an extremist who has tried time and time again to undermine health care access and give tax breaks for the largest corporations,” Ms Davids said in the statement, The Kansas City Star reported.

A spokesman for Mr Yoder, who has been endorsed by Mr Trump and has a significant financial advantage, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Democrats believe they have a chance to pick up the seat, which represents the Kansas City area and its environs, as part of its larger quest to regain control of the House in the November general election. In a statement, Ben Ray Luján, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called Ms Davids “a strong voice for working families” who is “ready to bring that fight to Congress.”

“After this hard-fought primary win, Sharice emerges even stronger in her historic bid to flip this competitive seat,” he said.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Ms Davids said her background would be an asset in the House.

“Having LGBT people sitting in the room while decisions are being made, and sitting there as peers, will shift the conversation,” she said. “I think it’s important that the lived experiences and the point of view of LGBT folks be included in conversations that affect all of us.”

While Ms Davids would be the first congresswoman to have been an MMA fighter, she would not be the first member of Congress with octagon experience. Oklahoma Republican Markwayne Mullin is also a former MMA fighter.

The New York Times

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