At last count, only two incumbent Republicans in Congress have aired television ads distancing themselves from Donald Trump: Ohio’s Dave Joyce and Minnesota/’s Erik Paulsen. Both are running in competitive U.S. House districts, and both want to be seen as independent voices who are willing to stand up to an unpopular White House.
In Kansas’ 3rd congressional district – a district Hillary Clinton narrowly won two years ago – four-term incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder (R), who’s also feeling some anxiety about his chances, isn’t running ads critical of Trump, but he is making a similar case. The Kanas City Star reported over the weekend:
Yoder said he’s frustrated that his “independent record” has been obscured this election as some voters rehash the 2016 presidential election…. Yoder also disputed the notion that he hasn’t stood up to Trump.
He said he was the only Republican on the House Appropriations Committee to support a Democratic amendment to block any attempt to defund Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election…. Yoder also pointed to his decision to speak out against family separations at the southern border in his capacity as Homeland Security budget chairman, noting that the Trump administration backtracked on the policy within 24 hours of a meeting Yoder had with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
Given that Yoder, by at least one metric, votes with Trump’s position more than 92% of the time, it’s a little difficult to take seriously the idea the Kansas Republican has spent the last couple of years standing up to the president.
But that’s not the funny part. Rather, the amusing part of Yoder’s pitch is that his Democratic rival, Sharice Davids, hasn’t fought hard enough as an anti-Trump voice.
Davids worked at the Department of Transportation after being selected as part of the final class of White House fellows under Obama, but Yoder noted that her fellowship continued into the first year of Trump’s presidency.
“What is it in her track record that tells us she would actually stand up to President Trump when she worked for him?” Yoder said. “She worked for the agenda. I just think it seems to be a pretty weak promise … when she already had a chance to do it and she didn’t.”
Patrick Miller, a political scientist at the University of Kansas, told the Kansas City Star that Yoder’s line of criticism is “insane,” in large part because executive branch fellowships are non-partisan positions.
The idea that Davids “worked for” Trump because of her brief stint as a fellow at the Department of Transportation is obviously laughable. The idea that a Republican congressman who votes with Trump 92% of the time would make this argument is evidence of an incumbent who isn’t feeling confident about his re-election chances.