That day the Vice President raised money against a Native candidate

Mark Trahant

#NativeVote18 update in Kansas, New Mexico

Imagine a sitting vice president of the United States raising money for the opponent of one of the few Native American women to run for Congress. This election is that important.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke at an America First rally in Kansas City and raised money for Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas. He said he was there to thank the people of Missouri and Kansas for supporting President Trump “every day since the election” and said it will soon be the one and one-half year mark since Trump took office. ‘It’s been a year and half of promises made, promises kept,” Pence said.

It’s those very promises that is basis of Sharice Davids’ candidacy for Kansas’ 3rd congressional district. Davids, Ho Chunk, is one of four Native American women running for the U.S. House of Representatives. She tweeted last week about Pence's record on LGBT rights and other issues and said he was "a direct threat to the inclusion and equality that I stand for."

As the Kansas City Star put it: Pence’s fundraising trip is a sign that Yoder’s” re-election is a high priority for the national party.”

Indeed. At first glance a vice president raising money for an incumbent makes no sense. Yoder already has collected more than $2.23 million this cycle. That compares to only $128,000 that Davids has raised so far.

However Emily’s List, a group that supports women candidates who are Democrats, said it will spend an additional $400,000 promoting Davids. Emily’s List endorsed Davids in May.

Then money is not the only factor in this race. Kansas’ 3d congressional district supported Hillary Clinton by a narrow one percent margin over Donald J. Trump -- so a Democrat can win here. Especially in a cycle where there is a motivated Democratic base.

The district is mostly urban, representing some 95 percent of the voters, and it’s the most liberal region in Kansas.

After the event Davids tweeted: “It was an honor to work alongside so many today & amplify the voices of inclusion & opportunity standing against VP Mike Pence. He was in town to raise money for Rep. Kevin Yoder - but we raised our voices in opposition to his record of hateful discrimination.”

Remember Gavin Clarkson? He’s a professor, a former deputy assistant secretary of the Interior, and a candidate for Congress in southern New Mexico. Clarkson, Choctaw, lost his primary in June, taking third place in a field of four candidates.

Last week the New Mexico Republican Party Central Committee tapped Clarkson as its nominee for Secretary of State. According to the Albuquerque Journal, Clarkson defeated Edwin “Ed” J. Begay, a former Navajo Nation chapter president in Tohatchi and former board chairman for the University of New Mexico branch in Gallup, in a secret ballot. “I thought that was interesting, that in a Republican election the two candidates vying for the position were both tribal members,” Clarkson told the Las Cruces News Sun. “That says a lot for the opportunities in the Republican Party.”

There are 14 Native American candidates running for statewide offices, including three for the Secretary of State post.

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter -@TrahantReports