Could Deb Haaland or Sharice Davids make history again?
Haaland and Davids are the first American Indian women to ever serve in the U.S. House. And no Native woman has ever served in the U.S. Senate. And now there are open seats for the Senate in both Haaland and Davids home states.
Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, announced last week that he would not run for re-election, creating an open seat. It’s likely that there will be a lot of competition so politicians in both parties are considering what it would take to run and win.
Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, D-New Mexico, tweeted a strong maybe. She wrote: “Thank you for love and encouragement New Mexico! I hear you, and I’m giving the Senate race a lot of thought and consideration. I'll let you know when we've got news to share!”
“Udall and his colleague in the U.S. Senate, Martin Heinrich, each won their seats in races without an incumbent, it is exceedingly rare for that to happen in New Mexico,” wrote Matthew Reichbach and Andy Lyman in The New Mexico Political Report. “So it’s no surprise that the list of Democrats who could run to replace Udall is lengthy …”
At least five major Democratic officeholders are considering entering the race as well as several Republicans, including former U.S. Reps. Heather Wilson, Steve Wilson, and candidate for Secretary of State Gavin Clarkson, Choctaw.
It could be an expensive race -- especially if both parties see it as a potential win. The last race for Senate in next door Arizona nearly hit $50 million.
While Haaland is a strong “maybe,” Davids has been silent. She is laser focused on serving her congressional district, something reflected throughout her social media feeds.
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican, announced his retirement. Kansas is a state that has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1932. Then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Kansas City Star that he would not be a candidate. That means it's a wide open race, even if the favors a Kansas Republican.
But Davids, Ho Chunk, has already defied history with her election to the House, defeating a Republican incumbent in Johnson County, Kansas.
This week the new Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, tweeted recognition for Davids as a “dynamic colleague and friend” for her historic election. She used the hashtag, #womenshistorymonth.
The last election had many firsts for Democrats in Kansas. And, as Kansas Public Radio reported: “Next year’s races could launch Democrats on a new path to political relevance in Kansas. Or it could leave the party withering into the triviality of the recent past, when Republicans held all the statewide offices, congressional seats and huge majorities in the statehouse.”
There are other potential Native American candidates considering campaigns for the Senate in Alaska and Arizona.
Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter - @TrahantReports