Rep. Sharice Davids kicks off Democratic convention, takes swipe at GOP opponent Amanda Adkins

Clockwise from top left: Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids faces Republican Amanda Adkins in the 3rd District, and Republican state Treasurer Jake LaTurner faces Democratic Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla in the 2nd District. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)
Clockwise from top left: Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids faces Republican Amanda Adkins in the 3rd District, and Republican state Treasurer Jake LaTurner faces Democratic Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla in the 2nd District. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas is serving as one of eight vice chairs of the Democratic National Convention downsized from a celebration with thousands of people packed in a Milwaukee convention hall to a virtual event with delegates staying at home.

Davids, seeking re-election in the 3rd District of eastern Kansas, said Monday on a video conference call with supporters that the November election with Democrat Joe Biden and President Donald Trump at the top of the ballot was the “most consequential election of our lifetimes.”

“It’s about taking back our democracy,” she said. “This week we will show exactly why Joe Biden is the right person for the job.”

Davids joined U.S. Reps. Donna Shalala of Florida and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire among vice chairs of the 2020 convention.

In the video call, Davids took an opportunity to criticize her 3rd District opponent, Republican Amanda Adkins. She is a Cerner executive who previously led the Kansas Republican Party, managed Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign for U.S. Senate in 2004 and was Brownback’s gubernatorial appointment to the Kansas Children’s Cabinet. That organization was responsible for allocating millions of dollars to early childhood programs across the state.

“I have an opponent that is actually trying to bring back some of the worst pieces of the Brownback administration that she helped implement when she was a key adviser to him,” Davids said.

Brownback served as Kansas governor for nearly two terms, resigning in 2018 to accept appointment from Trump as U.S. ambassador of international religious freedom.

Adkins campaign spokesman Matthew Trial said Adkins spent a career working to reduce health care costs and to help families through early-childhood philanthropic work in Wyandotte County. The 3rd District covers Wyandotte and Johnson counties and part of Miami County.

“The tired attacks of the past can’t distract from Sharice Davids’ radical, out-of-touch positions on the issues that impact Kansas City families’ everyday lives, like health care and public safety,” Trial said.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, an Illinois Democrat and chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said she was excited about the candidacy of Michelle De La Isla, who is mayor of Topeka and Kansas’ Democratic nominee in the 2nd District.

Congressman Steve Watkins, the 2nd District incumbent Republican charged in July with three felonies related to a voter fraud scandal, lost the August primary against GOP challenger Jake LaTurner, who is Kansas’ state treasurer.

“We have to make sure his (Watkins) replacement shares our values,” Bustos said. “We cannot let Jake LaTurner win. LaTurner has a reputation as a rubber stamp for the Republican Party. And, after nearly two years of representation by a scandal-ridden congressman, I know that Kansans are ready for real leadership.”

LaTurner campaign spokeswoman Kara Zeyer said voters in the congressional district running from the Nebraska to Oklahoma borders weren’t interested in what liberals had to offer.

“Eastern Kansans are looking for responsible conservative leadership that Jake LaTurner embodies, not the far-left politics of Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren that Michelle De La Isla has embraced in a desperate attempt to get campaign donations from coastal liberals,” Zeyer said.