Number of Native American Candidates Running for Office in 2018 Hits a New High
This year, according to a story on NPR, candidates for elected office include a record number of women among a record number of Native Americans. This includes Deb Haaland, who is running for Congress in New Mexico and who would become the first Native American woman elected to the federal legislative body; Peggy Flanagan, a state representative in Minnesota who is now running for lieutenant governor; and Paulette Jordan, who is running for governor in Idaho.
In total, as many as ten Native Americans will be on the congressional ballot alone in the fall, which is already double the number that threw their hats into the ring in 2016. Even more are seeking elected office for state and local positions. In Oklahoma alone, there are six candidates with Native American backgrounds running for statewide offices.
Many throughout Indian country are finding this influx of Native candidates to be inspirational. According to the NPR story, Dechellie Gray, who is Navajo, said that she’s never seen anyone who she looks like run for federal office. “It’s just very emotional for me because it means so much,” she said.
Gray is currently an intern for Deb Haaland.
“I just think that it’s really important that a government represents the people that live in their districts,” Gray told NPR. “Deb always tells the story of her grandparents being sent to boarding school. And my great grandparents experienced The Long Walk. She knows what that’s like. And I don’t think a lot of politicians see that and have first-hand experience of that.”