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Sharice Davids, a lesbian Native American, makes political history in Kansas

Davids is the first openly LGBTQ Kansan and one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress.
Democratic House candidate Sharice Davids at a victory party in Olathe, Kansas, on Nov. 6, 2018. Davids defeated Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder to win the 3rd Congressional District seat in Kansas.Colin E. Braley / AP

Sharice Davids, a Democrat from Kansas, made history Tuesday by becoming the first openly LGBTQ Kansan elected to Congress. She joins Debra Haaland of New Mexico, another winning Democrat on Tuesday, as the first two Native American women elected to Congress.

Davids ousted Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder, beating him by nearly a double-digit margin.

“Tonight Kansas voters gave the boot to a Trump ally and replaced him with a groundbreaking LGBTQ leader who spoke her truth throughout the campaign,” former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, now the president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement to NBC News.

“Sharice won the hearts of voters by putting forward a positive and solutions-oriented agenda while explaining how her experiences as a Native American LGBTQ woman influenced her policy positions and beliefs,” Parker added. “Sharice’s victory tonight will become a model for other LGBTQ leaders considering a run for office in red states or districts.”

Davids is a member of the Wisconsin-based Ho-Chunk Nation and has lived and worked on Native American reservations. Now a resident of the Kansas City area, she attended Johnson County Community College and Cornell Law School before serving as a White House fellow during the end of the Obama administration.

Davids made an early splash with a campaign video highlighting her background as a mixed martial arts fighter.

“This is a tough place to be a woman. I’ve been put down, pushed aside, knocked out,” Davids says in a voiceover as she ties back her hair and wraps her knuckles. “It’s clear Trump and the Republicans in Washington don’t give a damn about anyone like me or anyone who doesn’t think like them.”

During her campaign, Davids called for treating gun violence as a public health crisis and voiced support for expanding Medicaid's health coverage for more Americans. She was also critical of tax cuts championed by President Donald Trump.

According to Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today, Davids was one of a record 128 Native American candidates who sought political office this election cycle.

Davids was also part of a record number of LGBTQ Americans seeking office this year. This so-called rainbow wave saw more than 600 out candidates throw their hat in the political ring, with nearly 400 of them making it past the primaries to the general election, according to the Victory Institute, which tracks LGBTQ candidates.