After sweeping special elections late last year, Democrats in all fifty states are trying to capitalize on their party’s momentum for 2018. Some, like Pennsylvania’s Conor Lamb, are pushing for an upset victory like that of Alabama Senator Doug Jones, turning red districts blue for the first time in decades.
For two US House candidates, New Mexico’s Deb Haaland and Kansas’ Sharice Davids, success would be history-making for a different reason: they would be the first Native American women to serve in Congress.
57-year-old Deb Haaland hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico and is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe. She believes Native Americans should have a voice in Congress, and plans to fight for issues like climate change and employment. Haaland announced her decision to run last April, after serving two years as the state’s Democratic Party chairwoman.
The seat, soon to be vacated by Rep. Michelle Grisham (D), is heavily contested, with 6 Democrats competing in the June 5 primary. As of December 31, Haaland’s campaign had raised $385,000, and already has endorsements from NOW (the National Organization for Women) and the Congressional Black Caucus, plus numerous national and state tribes.
In Kansas’ 3rd District, Sharice Davids faces similar competition for the Democratic primary in August, but it’s the general election where she will have the toughest opponent. The incumbent Kevin Yoder is a Republican who has held the seat since 2011.
Davids, 37, is openly-gay, a gun-safety advocate, and has spent much of her career in economic development and advocacy for Native American communities. In 2016, she served as a White House Fellow in the Department of Transportation. If elected, she says education, healthcare, and immigration will be among her top priorities.
They may have several obstacles to overcome before November, but both Haaland and Davids seem up to the challenge.