Paulette Jordan is campaigning to be the Governor of Idaho.
This is Trahant Reports.
There have been very few Native Americans who have ever run for office at that level (I can think of three: Alaska’s Byron Mallott, Idaho’s Larry EchoHawk, and Peggy Flanagan in Minnesota).
Now add Jordan to that list. And she’s the first Native woman who has the audacity to ask citizens to run their state. Yay!
She also already has winning over conservative Idaho voters. Two years ago when Democrats were losing races across the country, she captured her second term as a state representative, winning by a margin of 290 votes. That might not sound like a lot, but she won during a Republican wave.
Jordan is a citizen of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.
She grew up in a farming family, Jordan says her grandparents showed her that cultivating the land was a continuation of our ancestral traditions of caring for homelands. The Coeur d’Alene peoples have cared for Idaho homelands since time immemorial and Idahoans today practice the same combination of self-sufficiency and cooperation that her grandparents once did. She told her constituents: This is what connects us to each other.
At her announcement, Jordan said, “when asked, ‘what are you going to do next to improve this world?’” She answered: “I am going to run for governor.”
Idaho once regularly elected Democrats to state office, including former Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus (who won office a record four times). These days it’s a super-majority Republican state. But things change. Idaho is also a state where the legendary National Congress of American Indians President Joe Garry served in the state senate and was a candidate for the U.S. Senate. It’s where Jeannie Givens served in the legislature and she ran for the U.S. House of Representatives (in fact, likely the first Native woman to do so). Both Garry and Givens are Coeur d’Alene tribal members. It’s also a state that that elected Larry EchoHawk, a Pawnee, first to the legislature, and later as Idaho’s state’s Attorney General. EchoHawk did lose a bid for governor. And, so yes, it’s an uphill climb for Jordan. But it’s not impossible.
One telling story about Jordan is that she lost her first race for the legislature in 2012 by less than a hundred-fifty votes. She did not give up. She went right back to work — and won two years later.
Jordan said there is even an advantage to being a member of the minority party. She said being in the majority can be insular and keep their circle small. She said: “In my family, our circle can always get bigger, and that’s what I see for Idaho. A bigger circle is what achieving justice for all looks like.”
I am Mark Trahant