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) SandersSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 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 YoderMike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation Yoder, Messer land on K Street Bold, bipartisan action on child care will win plenty of friends 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 ClintonSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants MORE by a single point in 2016, but also supporting John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers wait for Trump's next move on border deal MORE and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union For 2020, Democrats are lookin’ for somebody to love Trump religious adviser calls anti-Trump evangelicals 'spineless morons' 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.