WASHINGTON, D.C. – Policy votes by U.S. Congresswoman Sharice Davids which critics say have aided skyrocketing gasoline and other energy prices over the past two years, have landed her in the crosshairs of a Republican-led ad campaign that hopes to draw attention to her record as the 2024 elections loom.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which organizes fundraising and support for Republican candidates, launched the outdoor billboard campaign last week against 21 Democrat candidates viewed as vulnerable by political analysts. Davids won her third term in 2022 over Amanda Adkins with 55 percent of the vote in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, which includes Anderson, Franklin, Miami, Johnson and part of Wyandotte counties.
Gasoline prices have surged more than 50 percent since President Joe Biden took office, his efforts to restrict U.S. oil and gas production bolstered by Democrat votes and initial control of the House of Representatives until January of this year. Specifically, Republicans point to Davids’ vote against H.R. 1, the “Lower Energy Costs Act,” was aimed to increase domestic energy production after Biden’s executive orders to curtail it, reform permitting processes for energy industries, as well a streamline energy infrastructure and exports and encourage increased production and processing of critical minerals.
Davids’ campaign manager Mahona Chowdhury did not address the H.R.1 vote, but said Davids had supported the EPA’s approval of the sale of heavier ethanol-mixed E15 fuel, and had also proposed suspending the federal tax on gasoline – a move widely criticized as having negligible effect due to market pricing and possibly encouraging more consumption against still limited supply, resulting in still higher prices.
In October 2022, President Biden asked Saudi Arabia and OPEC to delay the organization’s planned cut in Middle East oil production by 30 days, which would have put the reduction occurring after the 2022 midterm elections. Biden had asked the Saudis for an increase in production the previous June.
The weakened position of the United States in requests for oil from the Middle East stands in stark contrast to the Trump Administration’s years. Policies that encouraged production brought the U.S. to a position of what analysts called “energy independence” in December of 2018, when the U.S. exported more domestically produced oil than it imported for the first time in some 70 years.
Surging gasoline prices within months of Biden’s inauguration brought the president to release 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with additional releases in March, July and October 2022. The drawdowns totaled 180 million barrel, leaving the SPR at its lowest level since the 1980s.
NRCC spokeswoman Delanie Bomar said the ad campaign would place the message billboards in prominent locations near gas stations in the districts of those 21 targeted Democrats. She said Davids’ support of Biden policy had contributed to historic inflation and forced financial hardship on Kansas families.
“Americans can thank extreme Democrat Sharice Davids for surging gas prices,” Bomar said. “Instead of working to unleash energy production and bring down gas prices for Kansans, Davids sided with extreme environmentalists to inflict pain at the pump.”
Earlier this month Biden announced he would halt a purchase of 6 million barrels of oil to restock the SPR, with oil presently selling at over $80 per barrel. That sale would likely have driven oil prices – and subsequently gasoline prices – even higher.