Published August 18, 2016
Mark Trahant / TrahantReports
It’s easy to be optimistic about the prospects for American Indian and Alaska Native candidates in this election and beyond. Our numbers are growing, organizations are getting stronger, and, best of all, the most remarkable, talented people are giving elective office a shot.
Then I hear that voice inside: “Ahh, yes, but good people lose.” That’s true. But at the same time politics has a long arc that brings about change. It’s not one election. Or one candidate. It’s that constant push. This should be a routine: We encourage candidates, help when we can, organize, and repeat when necessary. Then there is Trahant’s Rule: You gotta run to win. There is no substitute for putting your name on the ballot.
And so I am burying the lede: Edgar Blatchford lost his Democratic primary run for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. He placed second in a field of three. Ray Metcalfe had 13,631 or a little more than 51% of the votes to Blatchford’s 7,433 votes or about 34%.
Blatchford, a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, was a late entry into the race. He ran with little money, promoting his candidacy largely via social media. He was the only Native American running for the Senate. (Updated spreadsheet here.)
There are two areas of the country where it’s a question of “when” not “if” there will be Native representation in Congress. Alaska is one. Arizona’s first congressional district is the second. (The next primary is Aug. 30 in Arizona.) Perhaps when is just an election or two away. But you gotta run to win.
Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports
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