Nancy Boyda defeated a five–term incumbent to win election to the U.S. House from a district in eastern Kansas. During her single term in Congress, Representative Boyda received two prime committee assignments—allowing her to tend to her district’s military presence and agricultural interests.
Nancy Boyda was born on August 2, 1955, in St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated in 1977 from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and education. She worked for more than two decades in pharmaceutical research, first as an inspector for the Environmental Protection Agency, and later as a manager in the research departments for several pharmaceutical companies. She also taught grade school. Boyda raised two children, Ben and Leah, from a previous marriage; from her marriage to Steve Boyda, a Marine veteran and former Marshall (KS) County attorney, she had five step–children.1
Boyda, a lifelong Republican, switched her affiliation in 2003 to the Democratic Party, arguing that the GOP had become “the voice of big, big, big business.” Nevertheless, she once told The Hill newspaper, she held many of the same values as her old party: “You won’t find much difference between me and a moderate Republican.”2 Boyda made her first run for elective office in 2004, when she challenged four–term, incumbent U.S Representative Jim Ryun, a Republican. The district encompassed almost all of eastern Kansas running from the northern border with Nebraska and sweeping southward to Oklahoma, taking in the state capital, Topeka, as well as Manhattan, Leavenworth, Parsons, and Pittsburg. Reapportionment in the early 1990s created the modern district—which merged traditionally Republican counties in the southeast corner of the state, with counties in the northeast that had begun voting for moderate Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s. Boyda lost her initial matchup to Ryan by 15 percent, but returned to challenge him again in 2006. In that contest, Boyda and her husband Steve mounted a grass roots campaign that involved intense personal campaigning, local radio and newspaper ads, and a barrage of yard signs that read, “Had Enough?”3 In an election in which Republicans lost majority control in the House for the first time in 12 years, Boyda defeated Ryun, 50.6 percent to 47.1 percent, with a third–party candidate winning the remainder of the vote.4
After Boyda was sworn into office at the opening of the 110th Congress (2007–2009), she received prime committee appointments: Agriculture and Armed Services. From her seat on the Agriculture Committee, Boyda had the opportunity to address the district’s agricultural interests—ranging from corn, soybean, and wheat production to raising cattle. The Armed Services post, where she served on the Military Personnel Subcommittee, provided her a platform from which to look out for the district’s military installations—Fort Riley (headquarters of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division), Fort Leavenworth, and Forbes Field.
Boyda introduced the Congressional Pension Accountability Act in the opening days of the 110th Congress. The legislation would have denied federal pensions to Members who were convicted of criminal actions committed while they served in Congress. It passed the House by a wide margin as part of the new Democratic majority’s accountability and reform program, but was referred to committee in the Senate which did not take action on it. “Corrupt politicians deserve prison sentences,” Boyda declared on the House Floor, “not taxpayer–funded pensions.” Boyda’s initiative was later incorporated into the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which passed both chambers and became law in September 2007.5
Representative Boyda also advocated continued funding for U.S. troops in Iraq, while demanding a clear strategy from the George W. Bush administration to end the war. She also sought full congressional funding of the base Realignment and Closure Commission’s efforts to restructure the U.S. military—an undertaking that she claimed previous Congresses failed to support adequately. From her seat on the Armed Services Committee, Representative Boyda was able to steer millions of dollars in federal funding for improvements to Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley.6
In 2008, Congresswoman Boyda mounted her re–election effort and faced Republican Lynn Jenkins, the Kansas state treasurer, who had defeated former Representative Ryun in the GOP primary. In the general election, Jenkins defeated Boyda 51 to 46 percent. Representative Boyda’s term expired at the conclusion of the 110th Congress on January 3, 2009.
1Politics in America, 2008 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 2007): 404; “Biography for Congresswoman Nancy Boyda,” at http://boyda.house.gov/?sectionid=48§iontree=6,48 (accessed 4 December 2008).
2Patrick O’Conner, “Republican–cum–Democrat Taking on Ryun in Kansas,” 24 June 2004, The Hill: 14.
3Politics in America, 2008: 404.
4“Election Statistics, 1920 to Present,” http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/index.aspx.
5Congressional Record, 110th Cong., 1st sess. (22 January 2007): H810.
6Congressional Record, 110th Cong., 1st sess. (15 March 2007): E560; Congressional Record, 110th Cong, 1st sess. (21 March 2007): E605; “Nancy, Boyda,” 6 November 2008, Associated Press Candidate Biographies.