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Congressional races put Kansas in national spotlight, attract outside money

US House, Senate races garner widespread attention
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Posted at 6:28 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 19:42:51-04

There's a lot of attention on Kansas this election cycle — not just locally, but nationally — with the U.S. House of Representatives 3rd District campaign and an unusually competitive U.S. Senate race for Pat Roberts' seat.

Rep. Sharice Davids, a Democrat and the 3rd District incumbent, is defending her seat for the first time.

She spent part of Friday at the Roeland Park United Methodist Church's community food bank to help hand out groceries.

"Obviously, I’m looking forward to serving another term and just continuing the fight," Davids, who unseating Kevin Yoder two years ago, said.

While campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of her events to go virtual, she said the message of this campaign is clear.

Davids wants to "increase access to affordable healthcare," she said. "We've got to bring down the cost of these prescription drugs then, obviously in a time of coronavirus pandemic, we've got to make sure we’re working together, both parties, to get these relief packages across the line, because folks are really feeling that right now."

Davids' challenger, Cerner executive Amanda Adkins, believes she can flip the seat back to Republican control.

"We’ve been out in the community talking with individuals and families and business leaders about what’s most important to them in this election cycle," she said.

Adkins is a former chairwoman for the Kansas Republican Party and currently serves as Cerner's vice president of strategic growth.

The top priorities for Adkins is creating jobs, providing quality education for children and supporting police, "Getting people back to work and getting business growing as quickly as possible, that is the number one issue for especially republicans and independents in this district but democrats too."

While polling is limited in for this race, one conducted by VCreek/AMG shows Davids up by 20%, but that doesn't mean Davids plans to be complacent in the final weeks before the Nov. 3 general election.

"With my martial arts background, I’m the type of person that you don’t stop until the bell rings," she said.

Adkins tried to strike an upbeat note: "We do conduct polls internally as well and our polls show us a lot closer to her."

Ultimately, the polls may not be particularly reliable, especially for smaller regional races.

"State and congressional polling has been more hit or miss, so there’s a greater degree of uncertainly," Greg Vonnahme, an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said.

That same VCreek/AMG poll had Barbara Bollier, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, with a 3.5% lead ahead of Rep. Roger Marshall, the Republican vying to replace Roberts.

But it's not just the attention that has increased for these Kansas races. So has the money being donated to the campaigns.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Davids has raised more than $3.7 million compared to around $1 million for Adkins.

Menwhile, Bollier has raised more than $7.8 million compared to the $2.7 million raised by Marshall, who currently represents Kansas' 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Even more money has come from outside Kansas with two different political action committees reportedly spending more than $7 million apiece in the Senate race, according to Politico.

"Outside money is always a factor in close races," Vonnahme said. "Most of the money in close races comes from outside of the district and outside of the state."

But the reason is clear from a national perspective.

"This could also be the pivotal seat which decides whether or not we have a Republican or Democratic majority Senate," Vonnahme said.

41 Action News is committed to providing comprehensive information on the 2020 primary and general elections with an emphasis on several key issues — the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and race relations. Count on us to provide news and information to help you make an informed choice at the polls.