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A conversation with congressional candidate Andrea Ramsey

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A conversation with congressional candidate Andrea Ramsey

The importance of elections in middle America

Emily Milakovic

10.11.17

I recently sat down with Andrea Ramsey, who is running for Kansas' Third Congressional District, to talk about why she's running and why she thinks she can win. D.C. readers, don't click away just yet—if recent political events have taught us anything, it's not to forget "flyover" states. Elections are not won on Georgia or New York alone.

Ramsey, an alumna of Georgetown Law, has been the head of Human Resources at multiple companies and served as Senior Counsel for an international engineering firm. She is running for the Democratic nomination, and hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder.

"I was ambivalent about it at first," she said," until I was protesting in front of Yoder's office and heard so many personal stories, about people's families, and what the Affordable Care Act has meant for them."

Yoder is a firm conservative, voting with the Republican party 95.9 percent of the time. In May, he voted in favor of the House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It was that vote that inspired Ramsey to run.

She has worked with Turner House Children's Clinic, which serves the Kansas City, KS, area, for over eight years, and is currently its chair. The clinic serves thousands of children each year, with more than one-third of those living below the poverty line. Under Ramsey, the clinic expanded, which she attributes to things like the ACA.

"We expanded from just healthcare to include mental and dental care," she said. "We went from just pediatric care to having two pediatric centers, two maternity programs in local high schools, an adult clinic, and a refugee clinic."

Healthcare cuts put organizations like Turner House at risk. Ramsey said Kansas Governor Brownback's tax policies caused the clinic to receive a four percent cut in Medicaid reimbursements, which put them on the brink of having to shut their doors. Therefore, she partnered with the University of Kansas Hospital to apply for federal funding, which saved the clinic.

Sen. Tim Kaine with Ramsey at the Johnson County Democratic Party gala. Photo via Andrea Ramsey for Congress

After seeing the administration's repeated attacks on healthcare, Ramsey said she felt compelled to run for office, though her initial goal was not the U.S. House.

"I called EMILY's List and told them I would run for anything," she said. "I thought they might ask me to run for water district or something local like that."

Instead, they asked her to run for Yoder's congressional seat, something Ramsey acknowledges is a heavy responsibility.

"I was ambivalent about it at first," she said," until I was protesting in front of Yoder's office and heard so many personal stories, about people's families, and what the Affordable Care Act has meant for them."

Nearly 30,000 people in Kansas' Third District enrolled in the ACA marketplace expansion; the Kansas Health Institute estimates that roughly 80,000 Kansans who do not have healthcare coverage would gain it if the state opted in to the Medicaid expansion.

Elections in middle America can reshape the political landscape.


In April 2017, Democrat James Thompson lost a special election for the open House seat in Kansas' Fourth District by six points. He was the first Democrat to get within 20 points of the Republican candidate since 2000.

Many blamed his loss on inaction by the DNC and DCCC, which became involved only at the end of the campaign. In contrast, the Republican Party spent nearly $100,000 on the race, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) campaigned in Kansas, and President Trump and Vice President Pence both recorded messages on behalf of Republican Ron Estes (KS-4).

If the lesson of Trump's election was to focus on the northern Midwest and working-class whites, then let the lesson of James Thompson be that districts are flippable. Kansas' Third, where Ramsey is running, voted for Hillary Clinton by 1.2 points in November.

"James inspired a lot of people to think about Kansas," Ramsey said. "The DCCC is already in Kansas, running ads against Yoder's vote [against expanding hurricane relief]. Our race has and will attract national attention; we are a battleground because of Hillary."

Ramsey said she was fortunate that her family, including her two children in college, supported her decision to run for office; her daughter even offered to take a semester off to help staff the campaign.

"My family is completely on board," Ramsey said. "My husband is a Vietnam vet, and he knows more than anyone about serving your country. He's an inspiration to me."