Former MMA fighter declares victory over Sanders-backed candidate in Kansas

Former MMA fighter declares victory over Sanders-backed candidate in Kansas
© Facebook: Sharice Davids

Sharice Davids, an attorney and former professional mixed martial arts fighter, declared victory Wednesday in the Democratic primary in Kansas’s 3rd District over a candidate backed by both Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersWarren joins Sanders in support of striking McDonald's workers Kavanaugh allegations could be monster storm brewing for midterm elections      Senate approves 4B spending bill MORE (I-Vt.) and up-and-coming star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Davids appeared to have won the primary with 37 percent of the vote, continuing a winning streak by female candidates this year.

"Thank you to my 5 fellow Dem candidates, who were each a part of energizing our district throughout the primary. I look forward to working w/ them & all of you to change the face of KS politics," Davids tweeted Wednesday.

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Her biggest rival, attorney Brent Welder, got about 34 percent of the vote. Welder had received a burst of national coverage after holding a campaign rally last month with Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, who stunned the political world in June by defeating an established Democratic House leader in a New York primary.

Sanders and his allied group, Our Revolution, have had mixed results in Democratic primaries. In House races, only two of five Democrats he’s endorsed have won their contests, though he’s had a better record in gubernatorial primaries, where his preferred candidates easily won in both Georgia and Maryland.

Still, Davids, who’s openly gay, remains a fairly progressive candidate and the latest high-profile female candidate running this year. If she wins in November, she would be the first Native American woman elected to Congress.

Davids used her resume and experience to elevate herself in the crowded primary. She also got a boost from national outside groups. EMILY’s List, a group that aims to elect Democratic women to office, endorsed her and the group’s super PAC spent more than $600,000 on TV and digital ads on her behalf.

Davids defined herself as a progressive who backs a single-payer health-care system, also known as "Medicare for all," but has said she wants to consider other solutions that could more quickly expand health-care coverage.

Davids will now face a tough race against Rep. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderMother used in ad attacking Kansas Dem candidate is state GOP official To save asylum seekers we must save our immigration courts GOP super PAC hits Dem House hopeful as 'Pelosi liberal' in new Kansas ad MORE (R-Kan.) in November as Democrats look to win districts like Kansas’s 3rd in their quest to take back the House in November.

The race is bound to test the appeal of progressive policies in a district that has voted for both Democrats and Republicans, going for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton: FBI investigation into Kavanaugh could be done quickly Hillary Clinton urges Americans to 'check and reject' Trump's 'authoritarian tendencies' by voting in midterms EXCLUSIVE: Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency MORE by a single point in 2016, but also supporting John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us MORE and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyPoll: House GOP candidate leads in California swing district Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms Kavanaugh and the 'boys will be boys' sentiment is a poor excuse for bad behavior MORE by significant margins in 2008 and 2012.

Yoder, who was elected in a GOP wave year in 2010, has been a strong ally of Trump's. He voted for the GOP's tax plan and authored a bill that would secure $5 billion for Trump's border wall.

And Yoder has a significant cash advantage, with nearly $1.8 million cash on hand compared to about $127,000 for Davids.