4 Native candidates for Congress advance to November

Aliyah Chavez

All June 2 elections with Native candidates have been called except one #NativeVote20

Aliyah Chavez

Indian Country Today

At least four Native candidates for Congress will advance to the general election.

Both candidates running in Idaho on Tuesday — Paulette Jordan, Coeur d’Alene, and Rudy Soto, Shoshone-Bannock — will appear on the November ballot.

Jordan will face incumbent U.S. Senator Jim Risch, while Soto will compete against incumbent U.S. Rep Russ Fulcher.

In New Mexico, Yvette Herrell, Cherokee, won the Republican nomination for a U.S. House seat. She will run against incumbent Democrat Rep. Xochitl Torres Small.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, officially landed the Democratic nomination in her bid for reelection, with no opposition in her New Mexico primary. She faces Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes in November.

Also in New Mexico, Republicans Gavin Clarkson, Choctaw, and Elisa Martinez, Navajo, lost their primary bids in a U.S. Senate race.

Karen Bedonie, Navajo, also ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in a congressional primary in New Mexico. The race has not yet been called, but Bedonie was in third place Thursday with 96 percent of precincts reporting.

Six more Native congressional candidates have primaries in August. Three of them are current members of Congress who are running for reelection in 2020. 

They include Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, of Kansas. The Republican representatives are from Oklahoma: Tom Cole, Chickasaw, and Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee. 

Indian Country Today followed 40 Native candidates seeking various offices Tuesday, including Congress and state legislature seats, in New Mexico, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Iowa.

Another contest of note was in Montana, where state Rep. Shane Morigeau, Salish Kootenai, won the Democratic nomination for the office of state auditor. He will run against Troy Downing in November. 

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(Graphic by Tomas Karmelo Amaya)

(Previous story: Native candidates adjust campaigns amidst COVID-19)

Two of Tuesday's congressional candidates, Haaland and Soto, opted out of campaign parties in lieu of attending Black Lives Matter events. 

Soto attended a candlelight vigil at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise. He gave post-election interviews from the event. 

"I didn't want to have a celebration because it did not fit the times that we're in as a country," Soto said. He estimates thousands of people took part in the peaceful vigil.

Soto defeated Staniela Nikolova, a University of Idaho law student, in a U.S. House primary. He is running as Democrat to represent the state’s 1st Congressional District.

Also in Idaho, Jordan, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, spoke from the Coeur d'Alene Reservation after defeating former congressional candidate Jim Vandermaas. 

"Thank you all, everyone, for taking this time to vote for me and to vote for my family. By voting, you're voting for yourselves. You're voting for Idaho," she said in remarks streamed live on Facebook.

"Because we [Idaho] turned out to vote with a new record set in the Democratic primary, this has shown that people are willing to fight for our Idaho. And when the pandemic forced this primary to an all-absentee election, it triggered an unprecedented number of ballot requests, and now the highest percentage of voter participation in a primary election in decades."

Jordan advances to face a tough general-election race against Risch, who ran unopposed in the GOP primary. Risch is seeking his third six-year term representing one of the country's most conservative states. 

Jordan is well-known in the state from her campaign two years ago, when she sought to become the county’s first Native American governor. She has generally advocated for progressive policies, including teacher loan forgiveness, better rural education and better access to health care.

Risch has a lengthy career in Idaho politics, serving briefly as governor in 2006. He chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has been an avid supporter of President Donald Trump. 

In New Mexico, Haaland was unopposed in her Democratic primary Tuesday in the metropolitan 1st Congressional District. In November, she will face Holmes, a Bernalillo-based attorney and former police detective. 

Ali and Kenneth White Horse pose for a photo after voting in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ali White Horse, a school teacher, wore a mask and an "I voted" sticker leaving the polling place, which sits on the edge of the country's rodeo grounds. Inside, poll workers wore masks and distributed hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
Ali and Kenneth White Horse pose for a photo after voting in the Democratic primary on Tuesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

The compact district overlapping Albuquerque hasn’t been represented by a Republican since 2009.

Four Native Republicans also competed in New Mexico primaries.

Two of them ⁠— Clarkson and Martinez — were running in the same contest to compete in an open race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Udall. They were defeated Tuesday by former television weatherman Mark Ronchetti of Albuquerque.

Bedonie ran as a Republican to represent New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district. Her opponents were environmental engineer Alexis Johnson of Santa Fe and former Santa Fe County commissioner Harry Montoya.

In southern New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, Herrell prevaileoil executive Claire Chase of Roswell and Las Cruces businessman Chris Mathys.

In Montana, Morigeau was one of two candidates for the Democratic nomination for state auditor. He defeated consumer advocate Mike Winsor, a former assistant state attorney general. 

Morigeau will face the Republican nominee in the general election, Downing, a U.S. Air Force veteran and real estate investor.

Other state legislative races with Native candidates, updated as of Wednesday, June 3 at 7:45 p.m. EDT:

In Iowa, one candidate ran for state Legislature:

  • WON: Christina Blackcloud, Meskwaki, IA House 72

Montana had 21 candidates running for state Legislature:

  • WON: Jade Bahr, Northern Cheyenne, MT House 50. 
  • WON: Barbara Bessette, Chippewa Cree, MT House 24
  • LOST: Jestin Dupree, Assiniboine, MT Senate 16
  • LOST: Kristofer Fourstar, Assiniboine and Cree, MT Senate 16
  • WON: Mike Fox, A’aniih, MT Senate 16
  • LOST: Alex Gray, Little Shell, MT Senate 46
  • WON: Donavon Hawk, Crow, MT House 76
  • LOST: Dakota Hileman, Assiniboine, MT House 96
  • WON: Rhonda Knudsen, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, MT House 34
  • WON: Bruce Meyers, Chippewa Cree, MT House 32
  • WON: Rae Peppers, Northern Cheyenne, MT Senate 21
  • WON: Tyson Running Wolf , Blackfeet, MT House 16
  • LOST: August Scalpcane, Northern Cheyenne, MT House 41
  • WON: Jason Small, Northern Cheyenne, MT Senate 21
  • WON: Frank Smith, Assiniboine, MT House 31
  • WON: Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, Crow, MT House 42
  • DISQUALIFIED: Kaden Walksnice, Northern Cheyenne, MT House 41
  • WON: Marvin Weatherwax, Blackfeet, MT House 15
  • LOST: Nick White, CSKT, MT House 15
  • WON: Rynalea Whiteman-Pena, Northern Cheyenne, MT House 41
  • WON: Jonathan Windy Boy, Chippewa Cree, MT House 32

New Mexico had nine candidates running for state Legislature :

  • WON: Anthony Allison, Navajo, NM House 4
  • WON: Doreen Johnson, Navajo, NM House 5
  • WON: Derrick Lente , Sandia and Isleta Pueblos, NM House 65
  • WON: Georgene Louis, Acoma Pueblo, NM House 26
  • LOST: James R. Madalena , Jemez Pueblo, NM House 65
  • WON: Shannon Pinto, Navajo, NM Senate 3
  • WON: Patricia Roybal Caballero, Piro Manso Tiwa, NM House 13
  • WON: Benny Shendo Jr., Jemez Pueblo, NM Senate 22
  • WON: Brenda McKenna, Pueblo of Nambe, Senate 9

South Dakota had two candidates running for state Legislature:

  • WON: Shawn Bordeaux, Rosebud Sioux, SD House 26A
  • LOST: Alexandria Frederick, Oglala Lakota, SD House 26A
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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix Bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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