Record number of native American women running in US midterms

Native American candidate Deb Haaland who is running for Congress in New Mexico's 1st congressional district seat for the upcoming midterm elections, is surrounded by supporters at a picnic rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 30, 2018. (AFP / Mark Ralston)
Updated 14 October 2018
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Record number of native American women running in US midterms

  • No native American woman has ever served in the US House of Representatives
  • Three female candidates running in New Mexico and Kansas are looking to erase that statistic

ALBUQUERQUE, US: No native American woman has ever served in the US House of Representatives. But a trio of female candidates running in New Mexico and Kansas are looking to erase that statistic.
Two are Democrats. The third is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump. But all three hope to make a difference on Capitol Hill — and do their tribes proud.
“I’m a woman, a woman of color. That seems to be who we need in office right now to really push the issues that we care about,” Deb Haaland, who is running in New Mexico, told AFP in an interview.
The 57-year-old single mother also says she wants to be a “strong voice” for native Americans, other minorities and the poor.
Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe in New Mexico. So is Yvette Herrell, who is running in a different district — and is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican.
The two women have little in common, beyond their ethnic background.
Haaland supports abortion rights, Herrell is against them; Haaland supports immigration reform that would provide so-called “Dreamers” with a path to citizenship, while Herrell wants to boost border security.
In Kansas, Sharice Davids — a lesbian lawyer and former mixed martial arts fighter who is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation — is running for Congress as a Democrat.
Seven native American men are also running in the 2018 midterm elections — the total of 10 is double the number of indigenous candidates who ran in 2016.
On November 6, all 435 seats in the House and a third of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs. The polls are seen as a key litmus test halfway through Trump’s first term in the Oval Office.
The increase in the number of native American candidates is not only in the Congressional races — more are also vying for seats in local and state legislatures, as well as governorships.
Mark Trahant, the editor-in-chief of Indian Country Today, a specialized digital news platform, says that 100 candidates are seeking office nationwide on all levels of government, including 52 women.
Both figures are a record.
For Trahant, Trump was certainly a motivating factor in leading more native Americans to try their luck at the polls.
“It certainly was the inspiration for people to say this time, ‘I’m actually going to run and not just talk about it’.”
Paulette Jordan and Andria Tupola are hoping to win the governor’s mansions in Idaho and Hawaii, respectively.
Among the men, Kevin Stitt is running for governor in Oklahoma, which is home to the only two native American congressmen currently serving — Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin, both Republicans.
Throughout US history, more than a dozen native American men have been elected to Congress.
Haaland says Trump certainly helped drive her into a political career.
But Christine Marie Sierra, a professor emerita of political science at the University of New Mexico, says the explanation for the record number of native American candidates is a bit more complicated.
“It’s a longer story. It is a story that has been happening frankly since the 1990s with more women running for office and more women getting elected,” especially women of color, Sierra told AFP.
Traditionally, voter turnout among native Americans is lower than average — five to 14 percentage points lower. So in order to get elected, an indigenous candidate needs to appeal to a wider audience.
For Sierra, “women of color in particular are very good candidates.”
“They can relate to voters as women, as racial minorities, as working class, as mothers,” she explained.
Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation who is expected to win re-election in Oklahoma, said it is “critically important that native Americans have a voice to represent their views and values.”
“I am always happy to see native Americans running for office, whether they are Democrats or Republicans,” Cole told AFP. “They make a valuable contribution to public debate and the legislative process.”
His colleague Mullin is running against a fellow member of the Cherokee Nation, Democrat Jason Nichols.
Nichols has charged that Mullin is a native American “in name only,” and is out of touch with indigenous communities.
“We deserve better,” Nichols told AFP, accusing Mullin of “callousness toward our environment, access to health care, protection for women who have been the victims of domestic violence” — all key issues for native Americans.
Haaland says she is ready to be “a voice on the other side of the aisle” from Cole and Mullin, while working with them on issues that matter to their communities — a list she says is topped by land, water and federal resources.
“With more indigenous people in office, we can make progress for all indigenous communities and to remind the United States that we are still here and our identity is valid,” she said in a recent tweet.


Brexit in disarray as Theresa May faces possible ouster plot

Updated 24 March 2019
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Brexit in disarray as Theresa May faces possible ouster plot

  • British politics is at fever pitch and nearly three years since the 2016 Brexit referendum
  • With Theresa May humiliated and weakened, ministers insist she and the British government are still in charge of the country

LONDON: The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union was in disarray on Sunday as Prime Minister Theresa May faced a possible plot by ministers to topple her and parliament prepared to grab control of Brexit from the government.
At one of the most important junctures for the country since World War Two, British politics was at fever pitch and, nearly three years since the 2016 referendum, it was still unclear how, when or if Brexit will ever take place.
With May humiliated and weakened, ministers insisted she and the British government were still in charge of the country, and that the best option was still for parliament to ratify May’s twice-defeated Brexit divorce deal.
As hundreds of thousands of people marched across central London on Saturday to demand another Brexit referendum, May was the subject of what The Sunday Times said was a “coup” by senior ministers seeking to oust her.
The newspaper cited 11 unidentified senior ministers and said they had agreed that the prime minister should stand down, warning that she has become a toxic and erratic figure whose judgment has “gone haywire.”
When asked by Sky about reports in The Sunday Times and other newspapers of a plot and whether she had run out of road, finance minister Philip Hammond said: “No. I don’t think that is the case at all.”
“Changing prime minister wouldn’t help us,” Hammond said. “To be talking about changing the players on the board, frankly, is self-indulgent at this time.”
Hammond said the best way forward would be for parliament to back May’s deal, although he said that it might not be approved and so parliament should then try to find a way to end the impasse.
“I’m realistic that we may not be able to get a majority for the prime minister’s (Brexit) deal and if that is the case then parliament will have to decide not just what it’s against but what it is for,” he said.
Brexit had been due to happen on March 29 before May secured a delay in talks with the EU on Thursday.
Now a May 22 departure date will apply if parliament rallies behind the British prime minister and she is able to pass her deal. If she fails to do so, Britain will have until April 12 to offer a new plan or decide to leave the EU without a treaty.
Some lawmakers have asked May to name her departure date as the price for supporting her deal, though it was unclear when a third vote might take place.
If May’s deal is dead, then parliament will try to find a different option. That opens an array of options including a much softer divorce than May had intended, a referendum, a revocation of the Article 50 divorce papers or even an election.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said May’s deal was the best option and urged people to get behind the prime minister.
“The government and the prime minister are in charge,” Barclay said. May went to her usual church service near her Chequers country residence on Sunday with her husband.
The Sunday Times reported that May’s de-facto deputy, David Lidington, was one contender to be interim prime minister but others are pushing for Environment Secretary Michael Gove or Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
“I don’t think that I have any wish to take over from the PM, I think (she) is doing a fantastic job,” Lidington told reporters outside his house.
“One thing that working closely with the prime minister does is cure you completely of any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task,” he quipped.
Lawmakers are due on Monday to debate a government motion saying parliament has considered a statement made by May on March 15 which set out the government’s next steps on Brexit, including the plan to seek a delay.
They are likely to propose changes, or amendments, to this motion setting out alternative ways forward on Brexit. These are expected to include a proposal to approve May’s deal only if it is put to a public vote.
While amendments are not legally binding, instead simply exerting political pressure on May to change course, lawmakers could use one to attempt to change the rules of parliament to wrest control of the Brexit process from the government.
A British election could be the consequence of parliament seizing control of the Brexit process if lawmakers back proposals contrary to the pledges the government was elected on, Barclay said.