What’s the impact of Donald Trump on the Native American candidates for Congress?
This is Trahant Reports.
One answer to that question can be found in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. Victoria Steele is no longer running against incumbent Representative Martha McSally. Now she’s running against the Trump/McSally agenda.
Steele says her opponent has two options: She can speak out and renounce Trump’s statements about women, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims. Or she can nothing in which case, Steele says, her silence speaks volumes.
Trump could be a significant problem in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. There are some 528,000 eligible voters in the district and of that number, more than 113,00 are Latino. That’s about 1 out of five voters. And that number could grow. Significantly. According to Pew Research Hispanic Trends report nearly 58 percent of the Latino electorate is eligible to vote. There already is data to suggest that already more Latinos are registering to vote because of the fear of a Trump presidency.
But the extraordinary thing about Trump is that he could also inspire other voters to register and turn out against him. Trump has a range of controversial statements from his call to ban all immigration by Muslims to how he describes women.
One recent Gallup poll shows that seven-out-ten women have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.
There are other Native American candidates impacted by Trump.
Joe Pakootas in Washington state is running in the 5th district against Cathy McMorris Rodgers. He, too, has a growing Latino population in his district and his opponent is trying to walk that fine line as a Republican. She told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that she would like to question Trump about some of the statements he has made about women in the past.
The numbers are interesting for the Native American candidates running as Republicans. In Oklahoma, Incumbent Representatives Tom Cole and MaryWayne Mullin are running in districts that are increasingly Latino. Cole’s district now shows 6 percent Latino voters and 9 percent of the district’s population. Cole told The Daily Oklahoman last year that Trump’s problem is “he has very high negative ratings, both among Republicans and more importantly among the general electorate as a whole.”
And Arizona’s 1st Congressional District has almost as many Latino voters as Native American voters, 17 percent to 22 percent. And that’s likely to be an added factor in the November election. Bad news for any Republican, including Shawn Redd or Carlyle Begay.
It will be interesting to see if, and how, the Native American candidates running as Republicans defend or even champion Donald Trump.
I am Mark Trahant reporting.