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36 Republicans turn their backs on Steve Watkins to endorse Democrat Paul Davis

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) - Monday morning Paul Davis announced that 36 Republicans are endorsing him in the 2nd District House race against Steve Watkins. This is a blow to Watkins who is neck and neck with Davis in a typically safe district for Republicans. 

Despite this endorsement, Jim Joice, Director of the Kansas State Republican party said they're not worried. He pointed out that many of the Republicans behind this announcement also endorsed Davis when he was running for Governor in 2014.  

"It's quite honestly the same bunch from 2014 so there's no surprises there," Joice said. "If you want a Democrat Governor in 2014 and you want a Democratic Congress in 2018, I wonder how much you align with the beliefs of the Kansas Republican Party."

Davis lost that race, despite those Republican endorsement, but KSNT News political analyst, Dr. Bob Beatty, said in this race, they matter in a different way. 

"It didn't work for Davis statewide, he didn't win the governorship," Dr. Beatty said. "It did work in the second district in the sense that Davis won the second district. So he's going to want to follow that same formula which is getting a number of moderate Republicans to be willing to cross the aisle and vote for a Democrat." 

In this race, Davis said it's his political experience and his willingness to work with Republicans that sets him apart from Watkins.

"Nobody wants to send an amateur to represent them that needs on the job training. I'm ready to hit the ground on day one," Davis said. "The first thing I'm going to do is join the problem solvers caucus which is a bipartisan caucus, and I'm going to go do exactly what I did when I joined the legislature and went across the aisle, meet Republicans, find out what we have in common and get to work."

Some of the 36 Republicans spoke on behalf of Davis. Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger is one of them. She said she's giving her endorsement based on Medicaid, because she believes the Brownback and Colyer administrations fell short.

"Paul's opponent didn't live in Kansas when all this happened, but his campaign has embraced the same type of blind partisanship that has brought Congress to a standstill," Praeger said. "He supports the same partisan efforts to sabotage and repeal the healthcare law rather than efforts to fix its shortcomings."  

Also endorsing Davis is State Board of Education Member Val DeFever. She called out Watkins and his various attack ads on Davis. 

"I'm fed up with outsiders who are spending millions to silence the Kansans who actually live here," DeFever said. "Paul's opponent and the D.C. SuperPACs aren't offering any ideas for the future of Kansas. They are offering nothing but baseless partisan attacks."

Tom Sloan is a State Representative from Lawrence who has worked with Davis in the Kansas House. He says it's the bipartisan work that Davis does that he wants to see in Washington. 

"We need people who will reach across the aisle as Bob Dole did and Nancy Kassebaum did," Sloan said. "We need visionary leaders as Dwight Eisenhower was. We need people who will be less concerned with following party line and dictates and dogma and more aligned with trying to find like-minded colleagues who can advance healthcare, education, and public safety and bring this country back together."


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