Sharice Davids won the Kansas primary with hard work, focus on what was important, and avoiding the distractions from outside influences. That sound like a practice that would work in Congress, too. (You know ... instead of grandstanding on legislation that has no chance of ever actually becoming law.)
Davids, Ho Chunk, was an unlikely candidate. She started late, just four months ago, running against a candidate who had been working for a year on that race.
But in politics timing is everything. And those four months were exactly the right time. This year is one where women across the country are coming together as candidates and as voters in an unprecedented way. Native women, too. There are now two Native women, Davids and Deb. Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, as their party nominees for the November election. And two more. Amanda Douglas in Oklahoma, and Sherry Alu Campagna, Native Hawaiian, running in Hawaii, that could bring that total to four.
Unprecedented. Amazing. And so long past time. There have been some 12,000 people (mostly men) elected to Congress since 1789. It's time for new voices.
And it's not just Indian Country ready to listen. More women than ever are running for and winning primary elections. As the Brookings Institution pointed out: "If enough of these women get elected in 2018 to tip control of the House to the Democrats, we could see significant changes to the congressional agenda."
The candidates are not doing this alone. There is another trend at work, a growing gender gap of voters. This trend is what helped Davids win the primary. In states across the country the gender gap is widening to more than 20 points. The thing is it's not just the gender gap, it's the turnout. Women are showing up in greater numbers, too. And that's defining the 2018 election.
Tuesday night, in addition to Davids win, former Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib won the Democratic nomination to run unopposed for the House seat long held by former Rep. John Conyers. She will be the first Muslim woman to win election to Congress.
This is the untold story of this election, that the country, thanks to women voters, is finally stepping up to the diversity that is present.
The late Wilma Mankiller used to say that no government can function with only half its people. "Where are your women?" she said Cherokee leaders once asked the Americans.
There is a better answer this morning.
Davids tweeted this morning: "The ~~@~~KCStar has called it - I’m humbled to be your Democratic nominee in ~~#~~KS03. 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."
EMILY's list issued a statement to congratulate Davids. “Sharice is a fighter through and through, and with her primary victory, she’s prepared to take on Congressman Kevin Yoder and show 3rd District voters that she’s the best choice to represent them in Congress. Unlike Yoder, Sharice will work to protect access to affordable health care and make decisions based on what’s best for people in the district — not as a pawn of Donald Trump. She’s also on track to make history as one of the first Native American women in Congress, the first openly gay member of the Kansas congressional delegation, and the first Democratic woman to represent this district. EMILY’s List is proud to congratulate Sharice on her hard-earned victory and we look forward to helping her flip this seat in November.”
Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter -@TrahantReports