She’s cool. And it’s why Paulette Jordan could be Idaho’s next governor
Paulette Jordan has already made history. She is the first Native American woman to earn a major party’s nomination for governor. In any state.
But can she win?
This is Trahant Reports.
The New York Times said the Republican primary is “almost certainly” where the next governor will be elected.
Idaho has not elected a single Democrat to any statewide office … in the past couple of decades. And a Native woman, a young woman at that? Nah.
But Jordan is not a conventional candidate. And this is not a routine election year.
Four years ago the margin was 15 percentage points, 54 percent for the Republican to 39 percent for the Democrat. So the issue is how to get from 39 percent to 50 percent, plus one. To do that Jordan will need to win over at least 70,000 voters.
The most important thing for Jordan to do, she’s already doing. And that is to make Idaho cool and smart. (This is where the national attention helps.) On election night the music of Drake singing “God’s Plan” filled the room. Later supporters posted a .gif of Jordan dancing. Cool.
Jordan has the ideal message for the voters who are new to Idaho politics, especially those who have moved to Boise from other cities across the West.
Idaho is increasingly a technology state. Idaho’s tech sector is already responsible for adding $6.1 billion to the state’s economy. That’s third behind manufacturing and government.(And bigger than agriculture.)
The tech world has no use for the old school — and that includes politicians. It’s about inventing the future, not repeating routine slogans about social issues, border walls, or even extractive energy development.
This gives a reason for people who are Republicans to vote for a Democrat. Jordan speaks the language.
Another reason why Jordan could be competitive is that she is exciting. People want to be around her. That is especially important for attracting new voters to the process. Four years ago less than 60 percent of the voting age population cast a ballot. The higher that number, the better Jordan’s chances.
Indian Country is important too. Native American voters are only about one percent of Idaho’s population, but among potential young voters, the number climbs to 3.3 percent. That might seem small, but it could be a good reflection of voter engagement. Support from Indian Country is essential for Jordan to raise enough money. It’s how she gets her message out to voters. So far Jordan has collected more than $367,000 and that includes money from tribal nations and enterprises and some of her largest contributors have been tribes, including her own, Coeur d’Alene, as well as other tribal nations in Idaho, Shoshone-Bannock, Nez Perce and Kootenai. She has received support from tribes from across the country.
So can Paulette Jordan win the governor’s race in Idaho? Yes … there is a path. And it starts by being cool.
I am Mark Trahant