Paulette Jordan lost the Idaho gubernatorial race to Lt. Gov. Brad Little. The two-term representative and single mother of two ran an insurgent campaign hoping to become the first Indigenous governor in the history of the United States, the first woman to become governor of Idaho, and the first Democrat to be elected to the seat in nearly 30 years. But Little, a popular Republican, won the race.
Jordan has a long track record as a lawmaker: At the age of 29, she became the youngest person to ever be elected to the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council, her tribe’s sovereign government. In 2014, she ran for the Idaho House of Representatives and won. When she was re-elected in 2016, she was the only Democrat in Northern Idaho to win a district that also went for President Donald Trump.
Jordan ran on a promise to deliver for forgotten rural communities, like the impoverished community she grew up in. Her progressive platform, combined with an understanding of Idahoans' thirst for local autonomy and certain conservative-leaning policies, helped her create a coalition she was hoping would be strong enough to deliver her the governor's seat.
“Coming from a very impoverished, very rural community, I sought out those voices to be represented in the state House because they were the ones who were not represented as often as I felt they should be,” she told Refinery29 in an interview earlier this year. “These are the voices that I fight for and want to ensure that they maintain a seat at the table.”
But in deep-red Idaho, where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats four-to-one, it was always going to be a long shot. Nevertheless, Jordan knows that she's challenged the status quo just by running. If an Indigenous single mother of two who grew up poor can run for office, anyone can do it.
“It was important for me to provide an image for younger people to see that they can do anything,” she said. “They can go off and run for governor. Ultimately they can run for president.”