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#WomentoWatch on August 7

#WomenToWatch is a series by RepresentWomen that documents rising women leaders and their stories.

If Sharice Davids wins the Democratic primary for her district, Kansas 3rd, she could go on to be the first female Native American to serve in Congress and the first openly gay Kansas representative.

Davids, the daughter of a single Army mother, grew up on various military bases across the country. She went on to earn a law degree from Cornell, and served as a White House fellow during President Obama’s final year in office. The 37-year-old is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and a former MMA fighter.

The Kansas 3rd Congressional District is currently represented by Kevin Yoder, a four-term Republican. The district voted for Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, and the race has been identified by by Democratic PACs as an opportunity to flip a seat. Davids is running in a crowded race, with six candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. All six candidates have similar progressive policies, such as gun control. Davids secured an endorsement by Emily’s List and is hoping her campaign message of striving for greater economic equality, lowering the cost of higher education, fighting for equal rights for LGBTQ people, and expanding Medicaid will appeal to a broad base of voters.

If Davids wins, she and Debra Halaand of New Mexico could share the distinction of being the first Native American women elected to the US Congress. Davids would also increase the number of openly LGBTQ representatives in the House, which currently has 6 LGBTQ members and only one openly LGBTQ woman: Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. However, Sinema is running for a seat in the Senate, and Davids could take her place as the sole openly gay female representative in the House.

“If someone is running for an office and they are saying things that are dehumanizing to groups of people, we need people who are standing up and running against those folks to say, ‘What these folks are saying is not OK,’” Davids said in an interview with Time Magazine.

“Literally the only way for us to do that is to run for office.”

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