CLAREMORE, Okla. - After a tense campaign, Democrat Brad Carson defeated rival Republican Andy Ewing in the race for Congress. The Cherokee tribal member is one of a handful of American Indians who ran for public office in Oklahoma during the recent election.
Carson won his race with 55 percent of the votes, which surprised many who had expected the seat vacated by Republican Tom Coburn to remain on the GOP side of the house.
The race remained close between Carson and Ewing until Election Day. Ewing was supported by the exiting Coburn and given the use of Coburn's political machine as he ran for the Congressional seat.
Despite the high number of registered Democrats in Oklahoma, it has not had a Democratic congressman since 1996. Ironically, Carson is the descendent of Trail of Tears survivors forced into the Oklahoma Indian Territory by the federal government.
Carson said he wants to be a real voice for Indian country and looks forward to working with tribes from across the nation. Before the election, Carson said, "Right now tribal leaders in Oklahoma have no one to go to. Being an enrolled Cherokee - my mother's family came to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears - I'm going to be particularly interested in helping people, not out of generosity or out of social concern, it is looking after my own."
"We are pleased that a Cherokee tribal member, Brad Carson, will represent Oklahoma's Second Congressional District," Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith said. "If you look at a map, the Cherokee Nation is in the Second District. Carson has pledged to be an advocate for Indian issues in Congress and we anticipate that he will be attentive to his entire constituency, including the Cherokee Nation."
After staying up all night waiting for the national election results, Carson could not be reached for comment on his victory ... he was sleeping.