SEATTLE – Sen. Claudia Kauffman, D-Wash., a member of the Nez Perce Tribe and the only American Indian in the Washington State Senate, launched her re-election campaign in Seattle July 15.
Billed as a celebration of Kauffman’s 50th birthday, guests listened to a host of local political leaders and activists endorse her candidacy, but the main attraction was Kauffman.
She thanked the large crowd that had come to see her announce her attempt to return to the Senate for a second four-year term. She spoke about her passion for housing and children’s issues, as well as what it’s like being a woman – a Native woman at that – in a state Senate that is predominantly comprised of white men.
When asked about her role as Senator, Kauffman said, “The amount of people who came out tonight from all over Washington and from all of the diverse communities, tells me just how much it truly means to folks to have an American Indian in the state Senate and how important that is to all communities of color in Washington.”
Despite her freshman status, she has risen remarkably fast within Senate leadership, attaining the rank of Majority Assistant Whip in her first three years.
Since her election in 2006, Kauffman has shown a knack for mastering the political machinery of the Senate. She has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments in her first three years, such as the creation of an Early Learning Advisory Committee which fashioned a groundbreaking statewide plan to revamp Washington’s early learning policies. Kauffman also sponsored legislation to expand the American Indian endowed scholarship program, SB 5001, and to reform the state’s child welfare program, SB 2106, both of which have been signed into law by the governor.
Kauffman currently doesn’t have a primary challenger. It is unlikely she will see one, given the strong support she enjoys from constituents, Senate colleagues, and the Democratic Party. While her 2006 margin of victory was close at 52 percent to 48 percent, she believes she can increase that margin and make the 47th District a safe seat for Democrats in the future.