Paulette Jordan won Tuesday night’s Idaho Senate Democratic primary, setting her up for a historic bid to unseat longtime Republican Sen. Jim Risch.
It’s a long-shot effort by Jordan in deep red Idaho, but if anything, the race will be a fascinating study in contrasts between her and Risch, who could not be more different.
Jordan, 40, is a Native American progressive Democrat who would be the state’s first female and first indigenous U.S. senator if she pulls off a win in November. Her priorities are strengthening health care and protecting public lands, and she is a forceful advocate of LGBTQ rights and women’s reproductive rights. She was previously a two-term state legislator ― she defeated a Republican for the seat ― and the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018. She is not rich. She believes in science.
Risch, 77, is a conservative Republican who has been in politics for nearly 50 years and has held this Senate seat for two terms. He’s the chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee and he votes in lockstep with President Donald Trump. He has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act numerous times and regularly opposes LGBTQ rights and women’s reproductive rights. He is insanely rich. He does not believe that human activity is a significant contributor to climate change, which is well-established science.
One of Jordan’s strengths as a candidate is her ability to raise funds. Despite losing the 2018 gubernatorial race to Republican Brad Little, she raised more than $1 million as the underdog ― and most of it came from small, individual contributions from within and outside the state. She also appealed to independents and even some conservative Republicans with her anti-establishment message.
Asked how she thinks she can unseat Risch, Jordan told HuffPost in February that he’s vulnerable because he’s out of touch with Idahoans on the issues that matter the most to them, such as health care and education.
He’s also just gotten too comfortable, she said.
“The man has been sleeping at the wheel since he got elected ― literally and figuratively,” Jordan said, referring to Risch being caught sleeping on the Senate floor during Trump’s impeachment trial earlier this year. “He has disserved the public.”
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