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Politics, Elections and Government

Why Incumbent Kevin Yoder Says He’s The Underdog In the Kansas 3rd District

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3
Rep. Kevin Yoder says he is the "underdog" in his re-election campaign against Democrat Sharice Davids. He appeared Wednesday before the Johnson County Bar Association.

Rep. Kevin Yoder acknowledged Wednesday that he may lose his campaign for a fifth term in Congress. “Well, I think we may be the underdog in this race," he said before addressing the Johnson County Bar Association.

However, Yoder suggested his Democratic opponent Sharice Davids is taking the campaign for granted. "My opponent thinks she has the race in the bag,” he said. “She’s not here. She’s not present. She’s not asking people for their votes.”

The bar association billed the event as a joint appearance between Yoder and Davids. Yoder said he made a video to show to members when he thought he needed to be in Washington for floor votes. That House business was canceled, he said, so he was able to appear in person.

Davids canceled her appearance late Tuesday, according to the association's Executive Director Tracey DeMarea.

DeMarea said the Bar Association was disappointed Davids canceled. “Coming off the back of the governor’s debate, which we had all three people here, it just would have been so nice to have all the people here,” she said.

The fight over debates has been raging for a few weeks. Yoder's campaign said he has agreed to at least five debates. “I'm running this election the old fashion way. I’m out doing every parade. I’m out doing debates," Yoder said.

Davids' campaign says it has agreed to a debate sponsored by the Kansas City Star and Fox 4 a week before the election. “Sharice looks forward to debating Kevin Yoder on the important issues facing Kansans, that’s why we have agreed to a televised debate hosted by the KC Star on October 29," Davids spokesperson Allison Teixeira Sulier said in a statement before the event. "Rep. Yoder still has not accepted this invitation and instead is playing last minute games and trying to hide behind ticketed events, closed to the majority of Kansans."

But without Yoder, there may not be an Oct. 29 debate, said Kansas City Star Editorial Page Editor Colleen Nelson. She says the door is still open. "I think there's still time."

Sam Zeff is KCUR's metro reporter. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samzeff

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