Idaho is supposed to be “safe GOP.” A Democrat hasn’t won the governor’s chair since 1990 and there is not a single Democrat elected to any statewide office. Most states are a little bit purple, some Democrats, some Republicans, even if one party or another is in the majority.
The governor is Republican. Both U.S. Senators are Republican. Both members of the House. There are 29 Republicans in the state Senate and only 6 Democrats. There are 59 Republicans in the state House and only 11 Democrats. The party split is so one sided that Democrats need to win 13 seats in the Legislature just to have the votes to sustain a veto.
So why is Paulette Jordan doing so well?
A poll last week by Clarity Campaigns showed Jordan trailing her Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, by just 8 points. He leads by 38 percent of those responding to 28 percent with 7 percent for a third-party candidate and 26 percent unsure.
Eight points. In Idaho. Eight points.
Dig a little deeper into the numbers and there are some interesting points.
There is strong support for Medicaid, some 45 percent. It’s not quite a majority, but it does more than double those who do not support Medicaid expansion (at 19 percent). Thirty-six percent are undecided. And, of those who support Medicaid expansion, 64 percent back Jordan.
Idaho is also showing a significant gender gap. Jordan is leading slightly among all women, and she leads with independent women by a 27-point margin.
Jordan, Coeur d’Alene, is already the first Native American woman to win a major party’s nomination for governor. Of course she would also be the first Native American to ever be elected to that office. And if that’s not enough: She would be the first woman ever elected as Idaho governor, if you are keeping score, that’s 32 to 0.
Polls are one thing, enthusiasm is another. That’s what drives turnout. In November the only number that matters is how many of Jordan’s supporters actually vote. It’s a good sign when crowds show up to her public appearances. People want to know more. (That’s essential if you want undecideds to break your way.)
There is one other factor: The Bonneville County Democrats tweeted last week: “She was one of the last out the door after the Truman Banquet (along with those of us helping with teardown and cleanup). She makes time for anyone who wants to talk to her.” That’s how to win voters over one at a time.
On the same page?
Hawaii, like Idaho, has two women running for governor and lieutenant governor. But in Hawaii the second spot is nominated independently in the primary -- and that’s opened up a Republican divide. Marissa Kerns says Andria Tupola should “apologize” to Republicans for not being conservative enough. Kerns told Hawaii News Now: "I recommend to her go talk to ... our voters, let them know, 'I voted that way. Unfortunately, I have to apologize.'"
Ah. So the logical thing to do would be for candidates to reach out to Democrats, not conservative Republicans. But there is that purity test. Even if that makes no sense in Hawaii. If Idaho is a one-sided state for Republicans; Hawaii is that for Democrats. Even more so. The Hawaii state Senate has no Republicans. Zip.
Tupola, Native Hawaiian and Samoan, didn’t take the bait. She told Hawaii News Now, that the campaign "really has to be a merging of ideas and unifying our thoughts so that people can see the same message everywhere we go.”
Not from here
In the Kansas third congressional district, Rep. Kevin Yoder has already attacked Sharice Davids, Ho Chunk, as not having Kansas values and for her radical ideas.
The Kansas City Star wasted no time calling out the Republican for his “dog whistle.” He was trying to define the Democrat as an outsider, not like us.
The Star said: “As a Native American, oh yes, Davids is very much from here. As a graduate of Leavenworth High, where she lived until her single mom retired from the Army there, and of Johnson County Community College, yes, she is from around here. As someone who graduated from Cornell Law, was in private practice, worked on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and then was a White House fellow, she could have gone anywhere but chose to come back to Kansas. So yes, she is from around here.”
Winning the House
Deb Haaland was featured last week in Rolling Stone. Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, talked about how she hopes to “facilitate” the government-to-government dialogue as a member of Congress. Tribal leaders, she said, “are heads of state, essentially, and they really deserve to be at the table when these decisions are being made.”
She also said the climate in Washington will change if Democrats win the House. “... if we win back the House, we have more and better opportunities to steer things, to hold government officials accountable. This whole Russia thing — it’s nuts in that there are no consequences. President Trump is not feeling any consequences at all. If we’re in the House, we can push to make sure that the investigations continue uninterrupted, that we are making some real progress on holding people accountable.”
On Twitter this weekend, Haaland celebrated the gains made by women. “The 19th amendment which guaranteed all American women's right to vote, was ratified 98 years ago today in 1920. Today, in 2018, the women of our country are taking the lead and will be making history once again … we already have made history this year with unprecedented numbers of women running for office, not to mention, women of color. Representation matters and we are another step closer to having a government that looks more like America.”
Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter -@TrahantReports
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