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Pauly Denetclaw
ICT

This article will be updated throughout the evening. 

10:00 p.m. ET

Western South Dakota, Montana, and New Mexico polling locations have closed.

In South Dakota, Bruce Whalen started off the night with 838 votes 5 minutes after the polls closed in the eastern part of the state. There were a little over 5,200 votes counted at that point with John Thune leading with almost 4,000 of those votes.

At 9:20 p.m. ET, the Associated Press called John Thune as the Republican nominee. Thune will head to the general election where he is likely to win. For the first hour after the polls closed Whalen held strong at around 20 percent of the votes.

Results have yet to trickle in for Montana as the polls have just closed at 8 p.m. local time. Republican candidate Charles Walking Child, Anishinaabe, is running for Montana’s 2nd congressional district.

He is running against Matt Rosendale who has just finished his first term as a US Representative. Previously, Rosendale previously served as a Montana senator and representative before becoming a member of Congress. He is the likely winner for the Republican nomination and in the general election. He was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and the Montana Republican Party.

The sole liberal Indigenous candidate for Congress during the June 7 primary election is out of Montana. Newcomer Skylar Williams, Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy Montana, is also in the district 2 primary and is running against two other Democratic candidates. Williams grew up on the Rocky Boy Reservation.

Polls in California close at 8 p.m. local time. 

9:00 p.m. ET

Polling locations have closed in the eastern part of South Dakota. Bruce Whalen, Oglala Lakota, will begin to find out how well he did in the Senate race. South Dakota is both in Central and Mountain time.

Whalen is running against incumbent Sen. John Thune. Thune has represented South Dakota in Congress since 1993 when he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Thune was elected to the Senate in 2005. He is currently the Senate minority whip. Previously, he was the Senate majority whip from 2019 to 2021. Party whips are a congressional role that ensures members of a political party vote in line with the party’s platform to get legislation passed or halted. The republican and democratic parties both have whips who keep track of which way their congressional members are voting.

Thune is favored to win reelection. He is considered by many to be the successor to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.

“We will not hide behind the pant leg of Mitch McConnell,” Whalen said in a video posted to his campaign Facebook page.

A couple of hours ago he went from Sturgis, South Dakota to Rapid City trying to catch voters before they made their final decisions at the voting box.

In other voting news, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, went back to New Mexico to cast her ballot.

6:30 p.m. ET

New Mexico, South Dakota, polling locations are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. California and Montana polling locations close at 8 p.m. local time.

Results should start to trickle in after the polling locations close. Many of the Indigenous candidates running for congressional seats face steep competition except for incumbent Yvette Herrell, Cherokee, who will head to the general election.

Herrell will face the Democratic nominee who is likely to be Gabe Vasquez. He has been endorsed by New Mexico congressional members Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez.

New Mexico’s 2nd congressional district is considered a toss up due to redistricting, with a good chunk of the southern, rural part of the state being put in the same district as Gallup and Santa Fe, both areas are blue anchors for the state.

The city of Las Cruces and Dona Aña county voters will be deciding who wins that seat. Doña Ana county has gone blue every presidential election since 2000. This race will definitely be more competitive in the general election this fall.

Bruce Whalen was out in Sturgis, South Dakota drumming up votes, even through a hail storm.

7:00 a.m. ET

Four Indigenous Republican candidates are running for Congress in the June 7 primary election.

In South Dakota, Bruce Whalen, Oglala Lakota, is running for the U.S. Senate. He is one of two Indigenous candidates running for a Senate seat. The other two are, Cherokee citizen, Markwayne Mullin, and Chickasaw citizen, T.W. Shannon in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s primary isn’t until June 28.

In 2018, Whalen made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. House of Representatives. He is from Pine Ridge but moved to Salt Lake City when he was 14. He served in the National Guard in Utah for 16 years. Later moving back to attend Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota.

He is running for a multitude of reasons.

“I feel like we've lost confidence in John Thune in South Dakota. I've actually lost confidence in him in the fourth year of his first term,” Whalen said. “But he was very popular because he had just defeated (Tom Daschle). When that happened 127 percent turnaround in American Indian vote in South Dakota for John Thune. So there was quite the contribution to him getting past Daschle. But we didn't get the return for it.”

Besides South Dakota, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and New Mexico are holding primaries on Tuesday.

In Whalen’s community of Pine Ridge, he saw no improvements in the economy, job creation, unemployment rates, or poverty rates. His platform is based on “securing our rights and keeping a republic.”

Whalen talked about how Native nations are seen through treaties, federal Indian law, and congressional acts as domestic dependent nations.

“We're well taken care of according to the United States. But when we look and we believe our own eyes, we see that we're not well-taken care of,” he said.

During his campaign, he has been saying “South Dakota’s becoming a giant Indian reservation.” Whalen believes there is too much government oversight that is crushing free enterprise and economic development. He is a supporter of former President Donald Trump and wishes he were in office to weather this time of economic inflation.

He is pro-birth because he doesn’t believe abortions should happen under any circumstances. The exceptions for many abortion bans are in the cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother is in danger.

“I'm pro-birth. I'm not pro-life because pro-life has exceptions in it and I don't think that we should be arguing with God,” Whalen said.

In a 2018 interview with ICT, Whalen also made abortion one of his platform issues.

If elected, in his first 100 days, he would like to bring members of the Senate and House to Indigenous communities in South Dakota to see how their policies affect the people. He would like to see Native nations become more self-sufficient and depend less on federal money.

Another issue is housing in Indigenous communities and how there really isn’t a housing market on reservations.

“It’s hard for people to build equity,” he said.

Whalen has a tall task in front of him. Thune is the Republican frontrunner and favorite to serve another term. Thune was first elected in 2004. Another Republican, Mark Mowry, is also seeking the party ticket.

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Charles Walking Child, Anishinaabe, is running for congressional district 2 in Montana. He believes in smaller government, less red tape and strengthening individual rights. He is very supportive of veterans. He has stated that he will stand up for Montanans, especially small farmers and ranchers. His campaign slogan is “I am but a child, for a new era.”

“My vote will not be sold,” Walking Child said in a campaign video posted to his campaign Facebook page. “I’m counting on all republicans that love God, love individual rights, to vote for me now.”

Montana is growing and for the first time in nearly 30 years, the state will have two House seats. District 2 has 11 candidates, including four Republicans. Walking Child, Kyle Austin and James Boyette are trying to unseat incumbent Matt Rosendale.

Another Native candidate is in play. Newcomer Skylar Williams, Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy Montana, is also in the district 2 primary, but as a Democrat along with two other candidates. Williams grew up on the Rocky Boy Reservation, according to his campaign website.

He believes in Medicaid for all, eliminating student loan debt, addressing the climate crisis, and free higher education.

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Yvette Herrell, Cherokee, is running for reelection in New Mexico’s 2nd congressional district. During 2020 redistricting, the 2nd congressional district moved significantly. With the new map Roswell and Gallup, New Mexico are in the 3rd congressional district.

The Republican Party is suing the state of New Mexico, alleging it gerrymandered the district and weakened the Republican vote in southern New Mexico which has historically leaned conservative.

Herrell describes herself as a champion for extractive industries and sees government regulation and oversight as unnecessary and overreaching. She would like to see regulations cut back for the mining and energy industries.

She supports expanding broadband access to rural communities and tax cuts for middle-class families. Herrell believes that states should be overseeing education and not the federal government.

“Yvette understands that college isn’t for everyone,” her website states. “We should offer students the opportunity to learn the trades and skills to enter the workforce directly from high school.”

Herrell is running unopposed for the Republican nomination and will head to the general election where she is likely to win even with the redistricting.

In California, Baltazar Fedalizo is running for congressional district 37. He is not enrolled but says he is Chiricahua Apache. He is running on a platform of fixing the supply chain issues and addressing homelessness in Los Angeles County, a hot voting issue for California voters.

Fedalizo is unlikely to win and head to the general election. California uses a top-two primary system meaning, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and others all run together. Then, the top-two primary candidate winners are chosen. California’s 37th district is essentially Culver City, a suburb of Los Angeles, and votes overwhelmingly blue like much of the state.

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