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Pauly Denetclaw
ICT

The number of Indigenous candidates who run for office continues to grow every cycle with 2018 being the year the nation saw the first Indigenous women go to Congress, Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids. It was the year Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan became the first Indigenous woman elected to the highest statewide office in the country.

Two years later, a record number of Indigenous people ran for state and federal office. That 2020 cycle, Congress welcomed six Indigenous representatives to the U.S. House. In total 114 ran for public office and 72 were elected. The majority were Indigenous women at 67.

Here is the breakdown of Indigenous candidates this midterm election for the primary and general elections, according to ICT’s database:

• 143 candidates filed to run for city, county, state and national office during the primary election (5 candidates were disqualified or withdrew after filing);

• 138 candidates made it to the primary ballot;

• 60 women, 77 men and 1 nonbinary person out of 138 candidates;

• 87 candidates are on the November ballot for the state and national offices in 20 states; 

 43 women, 43 men and 1 nonbinary person out of 87 candidates are running in the general election;

 11 Indigenous candidates running for Congress in 10 states;

 The U.S. Senate might welcome its first Indigenous senator since 2005, should Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, be elected.

(As of 11/3/2022)

Every election the number of Indigenous candidates running for local school boards, city councils, county commissioners all the way up to U.S. Senate and governor’s office increases. 2022 is no different. ICT has compiled a database of Indigenous candidates. The database is not complete and ICT encourages people to email political correspondent Pauly Denetclaw at pauly@ictnews.org to add a past or current 2022 candidate to the list.

There are roughly 520,000 elected offices nationally. These seats range from school boards all the way to the White House. Just to have representational parity, 17,000 Indigenous people would need to be elected to these seats, according to Jordan James Harvill, the national program director for Advance Native Political Leadership. Currently there are about 200 that we know of, as it is difficult to fully track the number of Indigenous people elected to office.

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Electing 17,000 to office may seem like a faraway dream but there are approximately 10,000 tribal leaders elected to represent their nations either as a council member or president, chairman, governor, etc.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, Yup’ik, was elected in the special election and is now running for a full term. She was the first Indigenous person and first woman elected to represent Alaska in the U.S. House. Due to the sheer number of mail-in ballots, as well as the ranked-choice voting system, this race won’t be called for up to two weeks.

Minnesota’s Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Nation, is trying to secure a second term with Gov. Tim Walz. The pair have been leveraging their Covid-19 response and position on abortion to voters.

Potential firsts

There are several candidates who are looking to become the first Native American to represent their state in Congress.

State Rep. Charles Graham, Lumbee, is looking to represent North Carolina’s 7th congressional district. The state is home to the largest Indigenous nation east of the Mississippi River. Graham now represents Robeson County in the General Assembly that is 44 percent Native American, according to the U.S. Census.

In Virginia, Taysha DeVaughan, Comanche, is running for the U.S House to represent congressional district 9. John Mark Porter, Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone, is running for California’s 33rd congressional district as a Republican. From Nevada, Elizabeth Mercedes Krause is running for Nevada’s 2nd congressional district. Krouse and Taysha were both endorsed by Advance Native Political Leadership.

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Lynnette Grey Bull, Northern Arapaho and Hunkpapa Lakota, oversees the Northern Arapaho Tribal Housing Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, helping get federal pandemic funds to people who need assistance with housing and electricity. (Photo courtesy of Lynnette Grey Bull)

Lynnette Grey Bull, Northern Arapaho and Hunkpapa Lakota, secured another Democratic nomination for the second election in a row. She will be facing Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman. From Hawai’i, Republican Joe Akana, advanced from the primary election for congressional district 2. This will also be his second year running.

Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, is running for reelection to secure a third term. She is running against Amanda Adkins. Davids has done a great deal of fundraising this election giving her a competitive edge. She is an EMILY’s List and Victory Fund recipient. She has raised more than $7 million this election cycle, which is almost double what her opponent was able to raise.

The longest-serving Indigenous member of Congress, Rep. Tom Cole, is looking to resecure his 11th term. He’s running for Oklahoma’s 4th congressional district, where he is favored to win. He had two challengers in the Republican primary and won with 70 percent of the votes. He will face democrat Mary Brannon.

State legislatures

Oklahoma, Montana, Hawai’i and North Dakota continue to have the highest numbers of Indigenous candidates running for the state legislature.

Leading the pack, Oklahoma has 13 Indigenous candidates running for the state House, many of them incumbents who are running unopposed. The lone Democrat is Ajay Pittman, Seminole, who represents district 99. Gov. Kevin Stitt is running for reelection, meanwhile five Indigenous nations, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee, Choctaw and Seminole Nations, have endorsed his Democratic opponent Joy Hofmeister.

Next is Montana with 9 candidates running for state House and one running for state Senate. Most of the candidates are running for reelection. Including Shane Morigeau, Salish and Kootenai, who is running for reelection to the state Senate.

According to ICT’s database, Hawai’i and North Dakota are tied at 7 Indigenous candidates running for either state House or Senate. State Rep. Ruth Buffalo is running for reelection in district 27. She spent this election going door to door, having conversations with her constituents. This boots on the ground approach is how she won her seat in the 2020 election.

This election is looking to be another historic one. The general election is on Tuesday November 8th. For more information on casting your ballot visit Native Vote.

Follow ICT’s live election night broadcast Nov. 8 from 7 p.m. PST to 10 p.m. PST

What: Live midterm coverage covering Indigenous candidates and issues When: Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Time: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. PST
Where to watch: On the ICT and FNX Facebook or YouTube channels and at ictnews.org

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