Sharice Davids, left, and Deb Haaland are Native women who are running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Photo: Sharice Davids

Native candidates for Congress see good news in final campaign stretch

Three Native candidates -- all of them women -- stand a good chance of winning seats in the U.S. Congress as a historic 2018 campaign cycle enters its final stretch.

Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk Nation), Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) and Yvette Herrell (Cherokee Nation) all fared well in the latest analysis from the non-partisan Cook Political Report. If any of them wins, it will be historic, as the U.S. House of Representatives has never seen a Native woman in its ranks.

Of the trio, Haaland's chances of success are the greatest. She is the Democratic nominee in New Mexico's 1st Congressional District and Cook Political Report on Wednesday rated her race as "Solid Democratic."

Voters in the district have sent a Democrat to the House since 2009 and they have consistently supported Democrats in national elections, including all of the presidential races since 2000. The Native vote also helped Haaland secure her primary victory in June.

"What’s happening in Washington is disheartening, we must take back the house and win in November," Haaland said in a fundraising pitch last week.

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As for Davids, she is benefiting from a major and potentially groundbreaking shift. Cook Political Report on Wednesday moved her race in the 3rd Congressional District in Kansas to "Lean Democratic."

Though the change is not as strong as "Likely Democratic," it is still a significant development for Davids. Her Republican opponent is Kevin Yoder, who has represented the district for nearly a decade.

Recent public polls show Davids leading Yoder, a shocking turn of events because Cook has historically rated Republicans as having a four-point advantage in the district. Davids is also out-raising Yoder in a race that has attracted endorsements from President Donald Trump, for Yoder, and former president Barack Obama, for Davids.

"I am proud to have his support," Davids wrote in a post on Twitter on Monday after Obama announced his endorsement.

Herrell is the lone Republican in the trio of Native women candidates. She appears to be on solid ground in New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District, where three out of the last four office-holders were members of the GOP.

But just like Davids, Herrell can't count on an easy victory. Cook Political Report rated this race as a "Republican Toss-Up" though it noted that the district, which is home to several tribes, has a GOP advantage.

"Democrats are fighting to flip the House. We cannot allow that to happen!" Herrell wrote in a post on Twitter that called attention to the quickly approaching November 6 general election.

Elsewhere, three Native candidates -- all men -- are on the Congressional ballot in Oklahoma and two of the Republican incumbents look pretty safe, according to Cook and to other public polling.

The strongest of the bunch is Rep. Tom Cole, who is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. He's running for re-election in the 4th Congressional District, which Cook rates as "Solid Republican."

SoonerPoll paints a stunning portrait of the race. Cole is up a whopping 58 points against Mary Brannon, the Democratic candidate, according to results released this week.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who hails from the Cherokee Nation, is also on solid ground. Cook rates his race in the 2nd Congressional District as "Solid Republican" and SoonerPoll has him in a commanding lead among four candidates.

Both results are bad news for Jason Nichols, also Cherokee. He's the Democratic nominee in a district that has been extremely favorable to Republicans.

News also hasn't been so great for James Singer, the Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District. Cook rates his race as "Solid Republican" and UtahPolicy.Com has him trailing Republican John Curtis, who is a newcomer to the U.S. House, by a massive 46 points.

Cole and Mullin are the only two enrolled tribal citizens in the U.S. House. There are none in the U.S. Senate, though Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has claimed to be "part Native American," an issue that her detractors -- most notably President Trump -- have repeatedly used against her.

The only enrolled tribal citizen to have recently served in the Senate is Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who is Northern Cheyenne and was one of the strongest advocates for Indian Country legislation. He retired in 2005, after 12 years in the Senate and, before that, six years in the House, where he had been originally elected as a Democrat.

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