Former Congresswoman Nancy Boyda said a national political environment steeped in partisan rancor offered opportunity to a candidate for U.S. Senate eager to open bipartisan conversations on challenging public policy issues.

Boyda, a Baldwin City Democrat who represented the 2nd District of eastern Kansas in Washington, D.C., said she was considering a run for the seat to be vacated by U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican. An official candidacy wasn't a certainty, Boyda said Tuesday during an interview, but she intended to begin sharing her vision for productive dialogue.

"I can't describe how abundantly clear staying out of the political scene and enjoying my life wasn't going to be an option any longer," she said. "I think Kansans are really, really tired of all the drama nationally and certainly in our state in the past eight or nine years."

A robust collection of prominent Republicans have discussed entering the primary field in 2020, but former U.S. Attorney for Kansas Barry Grissom stands as the most well-known Democrat committed to the race.

Boyda, 63, served in Congress from 2007 to 2009 before entering the seminary and serving as a chaplain at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. She lives outside Baldwin City on a farm with several dozen chickens.

She said big-dollar donations fueling campaigns distorted the political process and made lawmakers adhere to partisan perspectives often void of moderation. Conflict is the common thread running through politics in Washington, she said.

A good starting point for altering the tone of the discussion could be development of an initiative enabling children to live healthier lives, she said. Other topics might be education, immigration and climate change, she said.

"What if Jerry Moran and I actually initiated conversations?" said Boyda, referencing the state's other GOP U.S. senator. "The rest of the country would look at this flyover state called Kansas and say, 'We want what they have.' There is a window."

Kansas hasn't elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in about 85 years, but victories in 2018 by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids suggested voters welcomed a breather from Republican domination of all statewide and federal offices. 

"I think there's great potential for change, but it's absolutely not a given," Boyda said.

In 2004, Boyda challenged incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, who prevailed 56 percent to 41 percent. Tables turned two years later when Boyda defeated the five-term incumbent by a margin of 50.6 percent to 47.1 percent. In 2008, Boyda lost re-election to Republican Lynn Jenkins, who held the 2nd District seat until retiring in 2019. 

Boyda made her interest in the U.S. Senate campaign known last week during a small gathering of Democrats in Labette County. She said Congress was broken while she was in Washington a decade ago and the national political culture remained a source of deep frustration.

Moderating conversations about policy could take place in communities throughout the state if that is what people want, she said.

Boyda said she intended to find out by touring the state's 105 counties.

"This campaign is not about me," she said. "It's about engaging Kansans."