J.D. Colbert is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Congressional District in Texas. Photo: J.D. Colbert for Congress

Native business leader J.D. Colbert announces campaign for Congress in Texas

It looks like 2018 is shaping up to big another big year for Native candidates for Congress.

J.D. Colbert, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, announced his campaign to represent the 3rd Congressional District in Texas. Voters there haven't elected a Democrat there in 50 years but the banker and business leader is counting on a shift in demographics to send him to Washington, D.C.

“America is in the crucible of seismic demographic transition. The impending death of the White majority and the rise of a more diverse New America is the fundamental cause of divided America and is the basis of the divisive cultural wars,” said Colbert, who is also a descendant of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

“Critically, elected officials must recognize that America is in the midst of wrenching change. Only then can we apply a healing balm as an analgesic to the pains of change and begin to reconcile our differences," Colbert said in his announcement on his campaign website. "We must enlarge opportunity for all by cleaving to the American principle of ‘all are equal.’”

Colbert, a former executive of the Native American Bank and Bank2, joins a handful of other tribal citizens who are running for Congress in 2018. There's Deb Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna) in New Mexico, Carol Surveyor (Navajo Nation) in Utah and Jason Nichols (Cherokee Nation) in Oklahoma, Mark Trahant reported.

Haaland and Surveyor, both Democrats, are hoping to make history by becoming the first Native women in Congress. Nichols, another Democrat, is making waves of his own in seeking to unseat the incumbent, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R), who is also as Cherokee citizen and who broke a campaign pledge when he announced his re-election campaign in Oklahoma.

Rep. Tom Cole (R), a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, has not formally announced his intentions for 2018. He has easily won re-election in Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District since taking office in 2003.

In Texas, the 3rd Congressional District is currently represented by Rep. Sam Johnson, a Republican. He is not seeking re-election in 2018 and at least three candidates, besides Colbert, have announced their campaigns.

The district is reliably Republican, so Democrats like Colbert face an uphill battle. In 2016, Republican President Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by 14 points there. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney lost the general election to incumbent Barack Obama, a Democrat, but still won the district by a whopping 29 points.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than 1 percent of the population there is Native American. But about 39 percent is African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic, according to the data.

“This transition is inevitable and ineluctable. All Americans must ultimately acquiesce to it. We need leaders who can temper the anger and fear about this change. We need leaders who can guide America through this crucible and ensure full and equal participation for all in the New America” Colbert said. “We must denounce the perpetrators of violence and stand firmly on the principles of the rule of law, our constitution and equality for all. Only then might we be united once again”.

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