A close PRC race in New Mexico and an urban Native candidate wins in Montana

ICT editorial team

Round up of #NativeVote18 candidates after primary elections in New Mexico, South Dakota, Montana, California

Mark Trahant

Indian Country Today

A three-way contest for New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission turned into a very close race between incumbent Lynda Lovejoy and challengers Theresa Becenti-Aguilar and Janene Yazzie. The three candidates, all Navajos, nearly evenly split the vote. Becenti-Aguilar has the lead at 34.9 percent with several dozen precincts yet to count.

Yazzie was in third and she posted on Facebook: “Our team put up a phenomenal fight and I could not be more proud! I’m so happy this is over! We definitely hoped for better results BUT to finish a campaign we started as an underdog with such a tight race is an extraordinary accomplishment.”

She said “big energy put a lot of money into challenging our movement but this is just the beginning and all they managed to thwart is a tactic. What we have started is unstoppable. … Congratulations to all who have won their respective race and to whoever comes out on top for District 4 PRC. Honor your responsibility because the game has changed and the people are getting stronger advocating for the change they need from the bottom up with or without you.

The agency regulates utility companies, telecommunications, pipeline safety, and transportation.

In Southern New Mexico, Gavin Clarkson came up short in his bid for Congress. Instead the  2nd congressional district will be represented by a woman next. The Republican who won was state Rep. Yvette Herrell and she will face in November Las Cruces Attorney Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat.

Clarkson, Choctaw, was running on a pro-Trump theme promising to drain the swamp. This was a tough sell and the message did not work.

There is a contested primary for the New Mexico House in District 13. Incumbent Patricia A. Roybal Caballero, Piro Manso Tiwa,  easily won her party nomination.

In South Dakota, several #NativeVote18 candidates were unsuccessful.

Faith Spotted Eagle, Yankton, posted on social media that “the ‘did not’ votes won … dismal turnout of Democrat voters. We are in trouble when even the winners only get 400 plus votes. Something has to shake loose..new party maybe?”

Spotted Eagle concluded: “Now on to our beautiful Buffalo Taking Ceremony tomorrow! Blessings to ya all. Hanhepi wasteh!”

“Awesome!! Congratulations to Tuwin Faith Spotted Eagle too for being such an amazing example of bravery because even stepping up and running energized us all,” wrote Allison Renville on Facebook. “This has been so much fun and can’t wait to see what’s next for everyone!”

Renville, Hunkpapa Lakota, lost her bid for Senate district 1.

However in District 27, that includes Pine Ridge, Red Dawn Foster defeated a long time legislator, Jim Bradford. On the House side, Peri Pourier and Margaret Ross won their races. All of the candidates in the district are Oglala Lakota.

In District 26A, the district that includes Mission, Rep. Shawn Bordeaux defeated  Troy “Luke” Lunderman in the Democratic primary. Both men are Rosebud.

In Billings, Montana, Jade Bahr won her party’s bid for a House seat in district 50. She is Northern Cheyenne. She was recently cited as a “2018 Champion" by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "Our campaign reached out to more than 3,000 voters in the past six months," Bahr posted on Facebook. "It’s been an honor to meet all of you. I would like to thank my opponent, Joshua Bradshaw, for his work reaching out to voters. We all have a lot of work to do in the next five months. Onward!"

In Missoula, another urban district, Patrick Weasel Head, Blackfeet, Gros Ventre, and Assiniboine, came up short in a four-way race for a House seat.

California has a top-two primary -- so two candidates from any party move forward. James Ramos was trailing Republican 41 to 46 percent but will both will be on the November ballot. Ramos is a San Bernardino County Supervisor and the former chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

Another candidate for the California Assembly, Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Wintu, is also in second and will move into the November election.

(Photo: Jade Bahr in Montana, campaign photo)