Republican voters in the 3rd Congressional District have a tough choice to make in the Aug. 4 primary, especially between former Roeland Park Mayor Adrienne Vallejo Foster and Cerner executive Amanda Adkins.
Both are articulate and passionate defenders of fiscal restraint and “health care freedom.” Neither believes that the next COVID-19 stimulus package should include additional unemployment benefits, and both would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
But if the question is who can best take on Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids in November, that candidate is Foster, both because of her experience and her personal story.
Unlike Adkins, Foster has held elective office.
And in contrast to Adkins, whose father has bankrolled her campaign, Foster’s biography could, as she says, make it harder for Democrats to run against her. The youngest of 12 children, she grew up in the urban core of Kansas City, Kansas, and hopes to win over some Democratic voters in Wyandotte County.
Foster has also been an executive director of the Kansas Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission and served the Trump administration as Region 7 advocate for the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration. “I’m the only one that has local, state and federal experience,” she said at a debate earlier this month. “I am also the only woman of color on this stage.”
At a minimum, she described Davids awkwardly at that debate: “To take on Sharice Davids, who is an American Indian, outwardly lesbian, I’m a Latina woman, married, five children.”
But her point stands that, as she says, “I am proof that the American Dream is available.”
The policy differences between Adkins and Foster aren’t dramatic. Adkins, a former Kansas Republican Party chairwoman, says that if elected, she’d push for further tax relief and draw on her 15 years of experience in the health care industry to work on reducing costs. Foster emphasizes deregulation and tort reform.
When asked during an interview with The Star Editorial Board to point to their most striking differences, both cited aspects of their biography. Adkins is a polished and impressive candidate, but Foster’s experience and her energetic efforts to build a base of support that spans the entire 3rd District will make her a more formidable force in November as Republicans seek to reclaim this coveted swing district.
Sara Hart Weir, the former president and CEO of the National Down Syndrome Society, also brings an impressive résumé and some high-profile endorsements to this crowded primary, but she leans heavily on her biography in her answers to policy questions, offering fewer details and less clarity about what she would do in office.
Tom Love, a former Democratic state representative-turned Republican real estate investor, and former Burns & McDonnell executive Mike Beehler are seeking the Republican nomination as well.
After losing its grip on the 3rd District seat in 2018, the GOP fielded multiple compelling primary contenders this year. Foster, though, stands apart from her competition, and she’s earned The Star’s endorsement.
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