Native vote seen as crucial in U.S. Congressional race in Montana

Denise Juneau is hoping to become the first Native woman to serve in the U.S. Congress. Photo from Facebook

Montana is once again a battleground when it comes to the Native vote.

Incumbent Ryan Zinke, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, Denise Juneau, are actively campaigning for the votes of tribal citizens in the state. Their first debate took place in Indian Country and both have visited reservations as they battle for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“When you have a race that’s separated by a few thousand votes, and you have tens of thousands of Native American voters in the state, that can certainly swing an election,” political science professor Jeremy Johnson told The Great Falls Tribune.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Native Americans represent 6.6 percent of the population in the state. In 2006, their votes helped elect Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat. He has served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and currently serves as vice chair.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Montana), second from right, on the campaign trail. Photo from Facebook

Zinke has supported tribes on energy, taxation and economic development issues during his first-term member of Congress. So far none of his Indian Country legislative proposals have become law.

Juneau, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, is hoping to become the first Native woman in Congress. She is in her second term as the Superintendent of Public Instruction and is the first Native woman to hold statewide office in Montana.

RealClearPolitics rates the seat as likely Republican but Juneau is touting a new poll that shows her and Zinke in a statistical tie. Zinke, though, is promoting an internal poll that shows him up 11 points, Politico reported.

Read More on the Story:
Montana lawmakers push to attract Native American voters (The Great Falls Tribune 10/5)

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