Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA Congressional candidate Wenona Benally Baldenegro, Navajo, knows she cannot win the Democratic nomination on August 28th without the non-Native votes, but she also knows she needs American Indians to vote for her.
AZ district 1 (blue) Encompasses Eleven of the State's Twenty-one Tribes
If elected, she will be the first American Indian woman ever elected to Congress.
Complete with a law degree from Harvard Law School and Navajo blood running through her veins, Baldenegro is running as a Democrat in Arizona's 1st Congressional District.
Her opposition is Ann Kilpatrick, a former Member of Congress, who was defeated in the Republican surge of 2010 by Representative Gosar, who The New York Times labeled as a Tea Party candidate at the time.
With the realignment of the Congressional districts in Arizona, since then the district has been reconfigured. Congressman Gosar is running in a newly configured district that leans more Republican. So, in November, the district will not have an incumbent to defeat.
Baldenegro must defeat Kilpatrick in order to be on November's ballot.
“Up until about two weeks ago, my opponent really did not acknowledge she had opposition in the primary,”
“So, she has not debated me,”
she continued, when asked by the Native News Network if there was a debate during this primary election campaign.
With Kilpatrick as her opponent, Baldenegro knows she must win votes of non-Indians.
“What has been out there is I am the voice of only Indians, which I consider borderline bigotry. Our campaign has reached out to voters in every single county in this Congressional district. We even have campaign offices in Pima and Coconino counties,”
“We cannot win this with just the Indian vote.”
While realizing she needs more than the Native vote, she also realizes she cannot win without the American Indians voting.
Within the Congressional district are the following eleven American Indian tribes of Arizona's 21 tribes:
With one week left, the Wenona Benally Baldenegro for Congress campaign will be putting on extra door-to-door efforts in the attempt to get out the vote. Campaign volunteers will be making phone calls to people who have voted in the last four primaries in Arizona.
Volunteers are needed and still being recruited. People from anywhere in the United States can make phone calls as part of the phone bank. Contact Arizona Field Director, Ruben Romero, at email@example.com.
Baldenegro grew up in Kayneta, Arizona, which sits in the Navajo Indian Reservation, in a single-parent home with her mother. She graduated second in her class from Monument Valley High School in Kayneta and first in her class from Arizona State University.
She later received dual degrees in the same year: a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Public Policy. This year she earned her second master's with a Master's of Law from the University of Arizona.
posted August 20, 2012 7:00 am edt