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
Today I have some news about the news.
This is Trahant Reports.
Last fall Indian Country Today went on hiatus.
This is a newspaper with a rich history.
It was started in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, by Tim Giago on July 1, 1981, as The Lakota Times. The newspaper soon became the largest weekly in the state. As Giago wrote: “For the first time in the history of the state an Indian-owned newspaper began to take a close look at the lives of the Native people.” He said as the newspaper grew into a national publication and his staff held a contest, and Avis Little Eagle came up with the name, Indian Country Today.
The paper was sold to the Oneida Nation in 1988 and the publication was moved to New York, eventually landing in New York City. Indian Country Today was a newspaper, a magazine, and a media network.
Last year the Oneida Nation said the changing media landscape meant it could not continue its operations and Indian Country Today went into hiatus. Then the Oneida Nation donated the assets to the National Congress of American Indians.
Now, I have been tasked with rebuilding this news organization.
Here’s the thing: When Indian Country Today was not producing content, writing stories, posting photographs, and such, there remained huge interest from readers. A lot of readers — some 500,000 a month online.
That’s amazing to me. And it’s a solid reason to gear up again. We have much to report.
So on June 4 Indian Country Today will officially unveil a new digital platform and an updated logo. We will do this at the National Congress of American Indians’ Mid-Year Conference and Marketplace in Kansas City, Missouri.
The new Indian Country Today is public media. That means our task is service, so we will be working even closer with other media organizations such as Native Voice One. You should expect more content.
Indian Country Today is ready for its next chapter too, leading in the digital, mobile space.
I remember as a young man mailing tribal newspapers to readers across the country. And, I also waited at the post office for other papers. I’d get a clump of papers, sometimes rolled up as tube, but full of news.
Now the “paper” is digital, multimedia and instant. Our primary focus will be the mobile phone, a platform where our readers are already migrating.
But in the end it’s about the stories we tell. Stories about people doing interesting things. Stories about elections — there is a big one in Idaho this week — and about public policy choices that impact our lives. There are so many stories that will not be told by the national media. No matter. Indian Country can do our own. And we will. Stay tuned.
I am Mark Trahant.