Indian Country Today election coverage
Indian Country Today
Indigenous candidates achieved milestones in races for legislatures, county office, state Supreme Court.
For Election Day results and the latest news on Indian Country and the Native Vote, here are a roundup of articles.
Election Day coverage:
— Native candidates light up state, local ballots
— Paulette Jordan, Coeur d’Alene, loses Senate bid
— Replay: Indian Country Today Newscast Election Special
— US House candidates make history
— 'Something else' may make all the difference this election
— A beautiful day to vote in Indian Country
Indian Country Today followed dozens of Native candidates seeking local, state and federal office in Tuesday's elections. Here is a look at some of our stories that connect candidates to Indian Country:
Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico says her first term in Congress has been nothing short of eventful after being sworn in during a government shutdown, voting in a presidential impeachment and working through a global pandemic.
Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, is seeking reelection for a second term representing New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. On Nov. 3, she faces Republican opponent Michelle Garcia-Holmes, a former police detective and administrator for the state attorney general’s office.
For nine straight general elections, Republican and Chickasaw Nation citizen Tom Cole has been the face of Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.
Come Nov. 3, he is a favorite to win yet another term as a U.S. representative.
As one of only four Native Americans out of 535 members of Congress, Oklahoma Republican Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, has been active in American Indian-related legislation and seeks to continue that work for another two-year term.
Standing in his way in the 2nd Congressional District on Nov. 3 are 45-year-old Democrat Danyell Lanier, Cherokee, and Libertarian Richie Castaldo, 38.
Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas has used her first term in Congress to introduce legislation, connect with constituents and advocate for Indian Country.
Davids, Ho-Chunk, is seeking a second term representing Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, in the Kansas City area. She faces two opponents on Nov. 3: Republican Amanda Adkins, former chairwoman of the Kansas Republican Party, and Liberterarian Steve Hohe, a retired Air Force officer.
Paulette Jordan, Coeur d’Alene, learned a number of life lessons growing up on a farm in rural northern Idaho on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation.
These lessons include accountability and respect, not only for the land but for other people, elders above all else.
“At the end of the day, all you have is your character and your word,” she said. “So it's very important that you are sincere in your actions and sincere in what you say.”
Rudy Soto, Shoshone-Bannock, is running for one of Idaho’s U.S. House seats.
The 34-year-old Democrat is seeking Idaho’s first congressional district against Republican incumbent Ross Fulcher.
“I'm running for every day Idahoans, Americans and Indigenous peoples from all walks of life who struggle to make ends meet and simply seek a fair shot at the American dream.”
Republican Yvette Herrell, Cherokee, faces a tough rematch in November in a U.S. House race that will help determine which party controls the chamber.
This is her second try for the seat. The 2018 race initially was called in Herrell’s favor, then absentee ballots turned the tide. She was defeated with 49.1 percent of the votes to Democrat Xochitl Torres Small's 50.9 percent.
Nearly two years ago, Hawaii state Sen. Kaiali’i “Kai” Kahele officially started his path to a potential seat in Congress and a chance at being only the second Native Hawaiian to represent Hawaii since statehood.
Much has changed since January 2019, when the 18-year Hawaii Air National Guard veteran and Democrat announced he was running for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. The presumed Democratic frontrunner, incumbent Tulsi Gabbard, decided not to seek a fifth-straight term and COVID-19 arrived in the U.S. When the pandemic hit Hawaii, Kahele volunteered in April for active duty and served four months as part of the state’s coronavirus response.
For too long, Native Americans have not had a seat at the table, says Darren Parry, Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. This November, he is trying to change that.
The former tribal chairman and father of nine is running for election to the U.S. House, vying for an open seat in northern Utah's 1st Congressional District. Parry is running on the Democratic ticket after having defeated Jamie Cheek in a close June primary.
Tricia Zunker announced her run for office on Indigenous People's Day, in October of 2019.
One year later, and the world has changed significantly. But Zunker’s plans for Wisconsin haven’t — society’s current challenges have only reaffirmed her initial reasons for running.
It’s her first time running for office, and Democrat Lynnette Grey Bull has already made history.
Grey Bull, Northern Arapaho and Hunkpapa Lakota, is seeking a U.S. House seat in Wyoming.
She is believed to be the first Native person to run for Congress in the state. If elected, she would be the first Native person to hold a federal office in Wyoming, according to the secretary of state’s office.
All four Native candidates running for office in Kansas won their primary elections, including one who is the presumptive winner of a state House seat.
Kansas, Arizona, Michigan and Washington held primaries on Aug. 4. Indian Country Today followed 21 Native candidates.
A pair of tribal citizens is blazing trails this November in races for top state courts.
The first Native American to serve on Washington’s state Supreme Court is hoping to maintain the seat she was appointed to late last year, while Michigan’s election appears to feature the first Indigenous person ever nominated to run for the state’s high court.
Shane Morigeau knows the drill. The politician shows up. Tosses a few nice-sounding ideas. Asks for money. And disappears until the next election.
“So I make it a point to return my phone calls,” Morigeau said. Then he adds the kicker, “Here's my personal phone number. You can call me, you know. You want to talk about politics or just want to be asked about something, you know, like, give me a call.”
Retail politics, Montana style.
Remi Bald Eagle is running for a six-year seat on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission as a Democrat.
Although a statewide office, for Bald Eagle it has implicit tribal implications as well. The three-member commission is the regulatory authority of utilities operating in the state and sets rates, and issues or rejects permits for pipelines, natural gas lines, wind farms and electrical grids. A commission seat is up for election every two years.
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The only Native candidate running for president has worked hard to get his name before America's voters — with mixed results.
Mark Charles, Diné, has a difficult road ahead to become the country’s 46th president. He will not be on everyone’s general election ballot come November, but his campaign has listed ways on Charles’ website for supporters to still vote for him.
Shane Jett joins two other Native candidates vying for state Senate seats in Oklahoma.
If Jett, Cherokee, wins in November, it’ll be 10 years since he served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Heather Keeler, Yankton Sioux, won her primary, joining two other Natives who will appear on the general election ballot in the state House and three in the Senate.
In Wisconsin, two Ho-Chunk women ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Tricia Zunker will be on the U.S. House ballot and Amanda White Eagle will be on the state assembly ballot.
Zunker will face Republican Tom Tiffany for northern Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional seat in November after losing to him in a May special election.
General election coverage
Native voters stand to play a crucial role in the 2020 election, especially in swing states where they make up significant portions of eligible voters. States in which two major parties have similar levels of support and high numbers of electoral votes are also home to large Native populations.
There was a time when TV commercials defined politics. And that’s still true in many states. Turn on any commercial television station in a competitive race, and the ads are pretty much nonstop.
Already on pins and needles over the presidential race, COVID-19 developments and growing social and racial unrest, voters may face a divided Senate after the election.
Like everything else about this election, the Senate races are volatile and uncertain.
Republicans currently lead the Senate with 53 seats, compared with 47 Democrats and two independents. If the Democrats manage to win four of the 35 available seats, they can control the Senate.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris have released detailed plans to uphold federal trust responsibilities by addressing health disparities, restoring tribal lands and providing economic opportunity for tribal nations.
President Donald Trump released his policy vision for Native Americans via the White House Twitter account. In the three-page “Putting America’s First People’s First: Forgotten No More” document, Trump champions developing free enterprise, encouraging business development, reducing regulations on developing natural resources and energy, as well as empowering tribes to manage their own lands through self-governance programs.
Observers and pundits are predicting record-setting voter turnout in the coming election. But the number of votes from Indian Country may be underwhelming because of systemic problems.
Knocking on doors, shaking hands and kissing babies.
Maybe not so much that part now but that was the campaign trail pre-COVID-19. The global pandemic has upended life for a lot of people, including those who are running for public office.
Clara Pratte, Diné, was hired as the national tribal engagement director of the Joe Biden presidential campaign. Her hiring is the first major position dedicated to Indigenous communities on the campaign.
Crow Tribal Chairman Alvin Not Afraid Jr. was met with praise and applause while speaking at a GOP rally in Montana. In attendance was Vice President Mike Pence, who headlined the event.
“Today I stand before you to endorse, as well as support, President Trump, Vice President Pence,” Not Afraid, Jr. said before also endorsing other Republican candidates in Montana.
In August, presidential candidate Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate
Harris has history with tribes in California as the state’s attorney general, as a U.S. senator and as a presidential candidate.
Campaign staffers and volunteers are the unsung heroes running campaign machines. They bring their best to create a strategy, inject energy, time, trust, and even money. Behind the wins and losses in every campaign are hundreds and thousands of people getting paid or who volunteer.
And there have never been so many Native folks doing just that.
Advocates said a new policy that lets Arizona residents without traditional street addresses register to vote online is not perfect – but it’s a vast improvement over the old process.
“It’s critical,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said of the change this month by the Arizona Secretary of State’s office. “This is a very important election, I think, across the country, and we want our votes to be counted.”
Two tribes in South Dakota and a voting rights group are suing four state officials, accusing them of failing to offer adequate voter registration services.
The complaint says South Dakota “is depriving thousand of tribal members and other citizens of their federally guaranteed opportunities to register to vote and to change their voter registration addresses when these citizens interact with state agencies.”
For the first time North Dakota’s Democratic Party has a Native American Caucus, an accomplishment organizers say is 40 years in the making.
Leading the effort are three women, all Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation citizens, who completed a caucus application before it was unanimously approved by the party’s State Policy Committee.
2020 Democratic and Republican conventions
Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer opened Night Two of the Republican National Convention, endorsing President Donald Trump for the 2020 election.
Speaking in pre-recorded remarks from Shiprock, New Mexico, Lizer ran through a list of accomplishments the president has achieved for Indian Country in his first term. The Navajo Nation second-in-command said it wasn’t until Trump came into office that Indian Country had a true seat at the table.
This year’s scaled-back RNC kicked off with 336 delegates gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina — six from each state, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories.
Besides formally awarding President Donald Trump the Republican nomination, delegates approved a handful of resolutions, including one that seeks to preserve Columbus Day as a national holiday.
It may lack the traditional fanfare of conventions from years past or a pre-pandemic Trump rally, but the Republican National Convention is set to nominate President Donald Trump for re-election as the Republican candidate.
Lifelong republican Donna Bergstrom, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, ran for the office of Lieutenant Governor for the state of Minnesota two years ago. This election, she's running for a state senate seat.
Bergstrom joins Indian Country Today Newscast to talk about the convention.
Shortly after millions of Americans listened to performances from John Legend and Common, they heard from one of the first Native women elected to Congress.
New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, gave remarks on the final evening of the Democratic National Convention in August, highlighting the event’s increased focus this year on Indigenous peoples.
Native Democrats, allies highlight importance of voting, other key issues at sweeping DNC caucus meeting.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former second lady Jill Biden gave remarks, along with many well-known Native leaders, lawmakers and political candidates.
This year’s DNC featured a virtual “Roll Call Across America." It took convention viewers to 57 states and territories across the country.
The roll call featured what was likely a record number of Indigenous speakers. Native American leaders from Alaska, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota were chosen to speak on behalf of their states.
The first Native American Caucus meeting of this year’s Democratic National Convention kicked off online with a land acknowledgment and a string of high-ranking female speakers.
U.S. Reps. Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids and Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan were the first in a series of Native leaders who rallied viewers to get out the vote to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Follow additional 2020 election coverage at IndianCountryToday.com.
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This story has been updated to add new links and results.