Navajo Nation Changes Primary Date to Help Native Candidates
The Navajo Nation Council passed a bill earlier this year to change the date of its primary to coincide with that of the State of Arizona. The idea, according to one of the candidates and council members we spoke to, is to maximize the Navajo vote as much as possible to support Navajo candidates, especially Congressional District 1 candidate Democratic Wenona Benally Baldenegro.
Benally is in a tough Democratic primary battle with Ann Kirkpatrick, who lost the seat in 2010 to Republican Paul
“We want to get more Navajos to come out and vote, we also want more voter turnout for Wenona,” said Lorenzo Curley, the Navajo Nation Council member who introduced the legislation to change the primary date to August 28. Curley said the idea was to take the high turnout for the council’s elections and apply that to the typically lower turnout for state and federal elections.
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The particular makeup of Congressional District 1 is another factor in how this change will be beneficial to Benally. Navajo voters tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic, she said. What’s more, she told us that the Navajo reservation spans three of the most Democratic counties in the district, which in her words, means the Navajo vote is going to matter this year in the primary election.