Bernie Sanders – Native News Online photo
Published June 7, 2016
Mark Trahant / TrahantReports
Voters will be going to the polls today in California, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and New Jersey.
Most of the attention remains focused on the presidential nomination.
Last night I was struck by the intensity of comments on my Twitter feed. #FeelTheBern is hot. Folks are mad at Hillary Clinton. The Associated Press. NBC. And, any other news organization that posts “Presumptive Nominee” in a story or video slide.
Fact is “presumptive” nominee does not mean a thing. It’s just a count of the pledged delegates and the promises made by super delegates. And, yes, it disses the people voting today but that’s pretty much true every four years in June.
We need to keep in mind that the primary process raises legitimate questions about what works — and what does not work. The process is not fair and not particularly Democratic. (I have written several pieces about election reform, latest is the screwy primary process is almost over.) The answer is to make election reform your passion. Not just the primary. But the election systems itself. There are many interesting experiments that are worth pushing forward to the next step. Politics is not just about candidates; it’s about ideas. The idea that every citizen should have a say in how we are governed is a universal and fundamental right that needs to be refreshed.
Enough soapbox. Let’s look at today’s #NativeVote16 races.
Montana. I posted this yesterday. The Montana Dozen.
North Dakota. Presidential caucuses are being held across the state. On June 14 there will be a primary election for other offices. There are three Native American candidates running for statewide office and at least three more running for legislative seats. I’ll post next week more about that. Previous: Native North Dakota.
South Dakota. Voters today will choose legislative candidates, county commissions, andother offices. There are at least four Native American candidates on the ballot.
California. The U.S. Senate race is particularly interesting. Remember, California uses a top-two primary system, so the candidates who win first and second move on to the November ballot. Andrew Maisiel Sr. is running for state Assembly.
New Mexico. TV station KRQE made the point that the state’s primary is usually too late to matter for the presidential nomination. “But, recent visits from Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton indicate that New Mexicans’ votes could really matter.” Two Native candidates are competing for the District 22 seat, New Mexico state Sen. Benny Shendo and former Rep. Sandra Jeff. Shendo is Jemez Pueblo and Jeff is Navajo. There is no Republican on the ballot in November, so the winner of the primary will likely win the seat as well.
Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports