Three Republicans drawn to 2024 primary for chance to take on U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids

Three Republicans have launched campaigns for the GOP nomination in the 3rd congressional district and an opportunity to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, who has won three campaigns for Congress and defeated GOP nominee Amanda Adkins by 12 percentage points in November. (Sherman Smith / Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The third Republican Party candidate aiming to defeat Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids launched a campaign Wednesday in a district anchored by vote-rich Johnson County, half of Wyandotte County and a cluster of modestly populated counties with a rural character.

Prasanth Reddy, a Lenexa physician who immigrated to the United States as a child, joined the GOP field in the 3rd District with Overland Park businesswoman Karen Crnkovich and former police officer Jonathon Westbrook, who also serves as treasurer of the Kansas Black Republican Council.

Reddy said the nation was at a breaking point and it was no time to sit on the sideline of political clashes in Washington, D.C. He said Davids, who was first elected in 2018 and won reelection last year by 12 percentage points, had “nothing to show” for her years in the nation’s capitol.

“She’s gone along to get along with the most extreme elements of her party, and we are suffering for it,” Reddy said. “As an immigrant, I’ve lived the American dream, and I’ve spent my life trying to give back to the country that gave me everything. My whole life, I’ve run toward problems. Whether it was serving cancer patients, or when I became a citizen and an officer in the Air Force Reserve after 9/11, I’ve always sought to be part of the solution.”

In 2022, Kansas lawmakers removed the northern half of Wyandotte County from the 3rd District, left Johnson County intact and added the counties of Franklin, Miami and Anderson counties to dilute Davids’ support in the largely urban district.

Davids (Ho-Chunk) prevailed in November against GOP nominee Amanda Adkins, who lost the general election to the Democrat in 2020 and 2022. In her three general election races, Davids has not received less than 53.3% of the vote. Her Republican opponents — U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder and Adkins — didn’t garner  more than 44.2% of the vote.

Courtney Rice, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said it was noteworthy Kansas Republicans hadn’t united behind a candidate. She said the upcoming campaign would highlight the legacy of former GOP Gov. Sam Brownback and the state’s political conflict over abortion rights.

“With the entrance of a third candidate in the Republican primary, it’s clear that Kansans are in for a crowded, messy race to the bottom between the damaging stain of Brownback and anti-abortion extremism,” Rice said. “Their dysfunction and inevitable race to the extremes of their party couldn’t stand in clearer contrast to Rep. Davids who has a proven track record of delivering for her community.”

She said Davids had worked in Congress to lower prescription drug costs and secure federal funding to rebuild the state’s roads and bridges. She also is an advocate for preserving the right to abortion in Kansas.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has denounced Davids as someone not conservative enough for the 3rd District and an adherent to policies of Democratic President Joe Biden.

Reddy, who immigrated with his family from Chennai, India, said American citizenship was the privilege. He graduated from Kansas State University and earned a medical degree at the University of Kansas. He received board certification in hematology, internal medicine and oncology.

He’s worked as senior vice president and global head of enterprise oncology at Labcorp since 2021 and continued to serve as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

“I’m not a politician.” Reddy said. “I’ve never wanted to run for office. But the unique experiences I’ve had as an immigrant, a military officer, a physician and a businessman put me in a position to help save our country. Extremist views cannot be the norm. Now is the time to act and to save the greatest country on earth — the country that made a dream like mine possible.”

He said his campaign would address the importance of parents have a voice in the education of their children, the need to support law enforcement agencies and to bring security to the national border.

This story was originally published by the Kansas Reflector. It is republished here with permission.

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Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector
Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International.