Caption: She taught him. Minnesota Rep. Peggy Flanagan and Congressman Tim Walz team up in Minnesota. Flanagan is running for Lt. Governor and Walz Governor as Democratic Farmer Labor Party candidates. (Campaign photo)
Peggy Flanagan is running for Lt. Governor in Minnesota. She’s on the ticket with Congressman Tim Walz.
This is Trahant Reports
It’s another breakthrough race. As a citizen of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Flanagan would be the first American Indian woman to serve as a state Lt. Governor and would be the highest ranking Native woman ever in a state constitutional office.
Walz and Flanagan are also offering a different kind of leadership. In the past, a Lt. Governor was largely symbolic, only somewhat active in state affairs. But this is a partnership and that involves more people is all about the future, not the past.
Walz put it this way in his news release:
“Peggy’s vast knowledge and expertise will be something I rely on daily.”
The news release continued: “Walz and Flanagan first met at Camp Wellstone in 2005, where she taught him how to knock on doors during his first Congressional run. They’ve maintained a friendship ever since.”
She taught him. These are the three words that can change what politics means.
The idea of a partnership in governing is recent but growing more common. Bill Clinton and Al Gore changed the nature of the presidency. And a partnership is certainly true in Alaska where Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott trade issues and sentences with ease.
There are two groups within Indian Country that are underrepresented by a lot, women and urban residents.
Most Native Americans live in cities and suburbs yet most of the elected representation comes from the reservation or rural communities. We need both. In the Minnesota legislature, and in public life, Flanagan has been that voice for urban Native Americans.
Flanagan represents the challenge — and the opportunity — for political representation by (and for) Native American women. This country has never elected a Native American woman to lead a state, or even as a Lt. Governor. And we still have never elected a Native American woman to Congress, despite some really fantastic candidates.
Then that barrier to fall in this next election: If you look at the number of elected Native American women across the country in legislatures, and in county governments, or in city hall, then you see the possibility of a slow wave, real change unfolding over time.
Flanagan is prepared to govern. She already knows how government works, and, more important, why government matters.
I am Mark Trahant.