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Kansas' Davids Is Early Target Of National Republican Super PAC

Congressional Leadership Fund
One day after Rep. Sharice Davids was sworn in, the Congressional Leadership Fund released an ad attacking her vote for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas' 3rd District had been in office for less than 24 hours when Republicans came out swinging with an attack ad.

"With her very first vote in Congress, Sharice Davids caved to the party bosses and voted to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker," says a female narrator, with chilling music in the background.

The ad was paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a super PAC tied to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives. Local and national Republicans have suggested that Davids, who beat incumbent Kevin Yoder by nine points, had promised to not vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker.

The ad quotes Davids in an interview with KCUR's Up To Datebefore the election, in which she told host Steve Kraske: "I want new leadership across the board."

During the campaign, Davids was noncommittal when asked whether she would support Pelosi. Three weeks after the election, however, Davids announced that she would vote for the California Democrat.

The CLF spent $20,000 producing the spot and distributing it, according to Federal Election Commission records. The CLF said the Davids ad, along with ads targeting five other freshmen Democrats, was distributed on digital platforms only and not on broadcast TV. The spot landed on Jan. 4, one day after the new Congress was sworn in.

CLF spent $2.8 million opposing Davids in the general election.

Davids responded to the ad with a fundraising email with an all-caps "ALERT" in the subject line.

Credit U.S. House of Representatives
Davids responded to the ad with a fundraising email.

"The right-wing special interests are upset that they've lost the automatic 'yes' vote that used to hold this seat, and they're sure to do (and spend!) everything they can to try and defeat Sharice in 2020," the email said.

Davids' campaign said it does not plan to answer the attack with its own ad.

These type of early attacks by party committees on radio or in newspapers began in the 1990s, according to University of Kansas political science professor Patrick Miller.

"The only things that are different are that party campaign committees are often acting through their allied super PACS to do this advertising, and we're seeing it on digital because technology has changed," Miller told KCUR in an email.

He said tying Davids to Pelosi probably won't work in Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

"I think these attacks on party leaders are much more for the base than the general public," Miller said.

He also said this early attack might be good for Davids, giving her a chance to fundraise early by reminding supporters that her re-election will be expensive.

"The more that she can remind her supporters of that and build her campaign war chest early, the better for her that is," Miller said.

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

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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