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Find KUER's reporting on the races, candidates and more for Utah’s 2018 midterm elections. Click here for our graphics of the U.S. Senate race, 4 Congressional races and Utah ballot initiatives.

Native Americans Running For Political Office In Record Numbers

Screenshot/Jordan for Governor Campaign
Paulette Jordan hopes to prevail in next week's primary to become the Democratic candidate for governor in Idaho. If she were to win the November election, she would make history in national polics.

A record number of Native Americans are running for political office this year nationally and in the Mountain West.

That’s what Mark Trahant said he’s seen in the tally of Native American candidates that he’s been keeping for years. More than 100 hopefuls are running for Congress, statewide office and state legislatures around the country. They represent a variety of parties.


“One of the things I write about a lot in my column is: You can’t win if you don’t run,” said Trahant, a member of the Shoshone Bannock tribe of Idaho and editor of the national news hub, Indian Country Today.

“That to me is the first step — whether win or lose —  is to get in there and to say this is important.”

Some highlights in this year's field include:

  • Paulette Jordan is a Coeur d’Alene tribal member on Trahant’s list. She hopes to be the Democrat on the ballot for Idaho governor after next week’s primary.
  • Seventeen Native Americans are running for the Montana Legislature, including Blackfoot tribal member Adrian Owen Wagner of the Green Party.
  • In Utah, Navajo James Singer is a Democrat challenging Republican Congressman John Curtis.
  • And Joe Salazar, an Apache, is running for attorney general in Colorado.

Trahant uses #NativeVote18 on his posts, and he also keeps a candidate spreadsheets on his blog, Trahant Reports.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.


Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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