Idaho State Representative Paulette Jordan is competing for the chance to represent her party in the state’s coming gubernatorial election — and to become the first ever Native American to serve as governor. Jordan, 38, who survived a wave of conservative activism that unseated every other Democrat north of Boise who was up for re-election in 2016, isn’t the popular choice of the Democratic establishment. She’s been dismissed as “really beautiful” but “very young” and too inexperienced to mount a serious challenge in the Republican-dominated state — criticisms that Jordan has defiantly pushed back against.
“I have 10 years of elected experience,” Jordan told BuzzFeed reporter Anne Helen Petersen, noting that she had served on her tribe’s council for years before she was elected to the state legislature at age 34. “I think women — and men — should be disgusted … to say that a woman with leadership experience should step aside. That I should ‘wait my turn.’”
“I think we’re done with that,” she added. “This is a generation that says, we’re not going to tolerate old white men telling us to step aside anymore. This is when it’s time for us to take action — and to lead.”
Jordan, who grew up on a reservation for the Coeur d’Alene tribe and has previously worked to clean up tribal land that was poisoned by silver miners who failed to clean up their toxic waste, spoke at the Women’s March in Las Vegas in January and has garnered support for her groundbreaking candidacy from progressive groups and Planned Parenthood. Speaking with Petersen, Jordan discussed the ways in which her candidacy is controversial for many Democrats, as well as why she thinks her life experience makes her uniquely equipped to make inroads in a state that hasn’t put a Democrat in the governor’s office since 1995.
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