Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick to challenge Sen. John McCain in 2016 race

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona). Photo from Facebook

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona), who was born and raised in Indian Country, announced her campaign for U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

Kirkpatrick was born on the Fort Apache Reservation, home to the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Her father owned a general store and her mother was a teacher at an Indian school there -- both are featured in her announcement video.

"I love this state -- I've lived my whole life here," Kirkpatrick said in the video.

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) at the winter session of the National Congress of American Indians. February 28, 2006. Washington, DC
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona). File photo by Indianz.Com

Political observers believe Kirkpatrick, who represents a district where Native Americans make up 22.6 percent of the population, poses a credible challenge to Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona). Both have favorable records on Indian issues, although McCain's is much longer thanks to his 28 years on Capitol Hill.

But McCain's stature has suffered in recent years. During his last stint as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, he focused almost exclusively on Indian gaming and the Jack Abramoff scandal, an agenda that was not entirely appreciated in Indian Country.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe led a walk to 40-mile journey to Oak Flat in Arizona to protest a copper mine at a sacred site. Photo by Kenneth Chan / Facebook

Both Kirkpatrick and McCain, however, have angered tribes in their home state for pushing the controversial Resolution Copper land swap through Congress. Developers plan to build a mine at Oak Flat, a site held sacred by Apache tribes.

"The land exchange has impacts on many components but what they all tie to is theft," Wendsler Nosie Sr., a council member and former chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe said in an opinion for Indianz.Com. "The taking of property without the laws that apply normally. Isn’t that called stealing? And what is bad is that this theft has been approved by the U.S. government."

Kirkpatrick and McCain also have their hands on the Keep the Promise Act (S.152 and H.R.308). The controversial bill prevents the Tohono O'odham Nation from using its trust land for a casino.

Native Americans make up 5.3 percent of the population in Arizona, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. They represent larger numbers in places like Apache County (73.5 percent), Coconino County (27.4 percent) and Navajo County (44.8 percent).

Get the Story:
Kirkpatrick looks to unseat McCain in '16 U.S. Senate race (The Arizona Republic 5/27)
John McCain gets a Senate challenger (The Washington Post 5/26)
Ann Kirkpatrick to Challenge John McCain for Arizona Senate (The New York Times 5/26)
Arizona House Democrat to challenge McCain for Senate (AP 5/26)

Join the Conversation
Related Stories:
Sen. McCain denies being influenced by tribal casino lobbyists (5/15)
San Carlos Apache Tribe leads 40-mile march for sacred site (02/06)
Trending in News
More Headlines