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Cher-Backed Idaho Democrat Hopes to be Nation’s First Native American Governor

Idaho Democrats haven’t been able to put one of their own in the state’s governor’s office since the 1990 election. But now that Gov. Butch Otter (R) has decided not to run for re-election, they have new hope.

Endorsed by Cher and backed by People for Bernie, progressive Democrat Paulette Jordan not only wants to break the GOP’s stranglehold on Idaho’s governor’s office, but the 37-year-old state representative wants to become the nation’s first Native American governor.

Born and raised in northern Idaho, Jordan claims ancestors from several local tribes and also a line of tribal chiefs going back to her great-grandfather.

Jordan was also the youngest member of the Couer d’Alene tribe’s council.

When Jordan announced her campaign Dec. 7, she talked about “service” to the state of Idaho. Her campaign website lists a livable wage, education, affordable healthcare and Medicaid expansion as her top priorities.

So it’s not hard to believe that Jordan, who doesn’t just describe herself as progressive — she claims to be “very progressive” — also told Mic she is definitely the anti-Trump candidate in this race.

“The truth is, in fact, that we’ve created hundreds of thousands more jobs through clean energy developments than we have through fossil fuel developments,” Jordan said. “The president is choosing to lie to the general public for these reasons, for his own sake to take from the public. Take from the people. And that is wrong.”

And then there’s Trump’s decision to reduce the size of two of Idaho’s federally protected national monuments.

“We have this president who decides to open up [monument sites] for oil and gas extractions to basically to ravage the land in every way possible for the benefit of the corporations,” she said. “Now that, to me, is not only unlawful but goes back to being a detriment to the people.”

Jordan told Vice that it is essential to have a Native American in the Idaho governor’s office.

“I see myself helping to contribute to the balance of representation and to ultimately inspire others who may not think this position is attainable,” said Jordan. “There are people who think entering office is only for older, white, wealthy men. We’re now here to break boundaries and people’s perception.”

Speaking of older, white, wealthy men, Jordan’s going up against A.J. Balukoff, a Boise businessman who is running as a moderate, in the Idaho Democratic Party’s gubernatorial primary.

While the 71-year old doesn’t have Cher or People for Bernie on his side, Balukoff does have the Benjamins.

Idaho Ed News reported Balukoff raised $181,271 and spent $143,699 in the last half of 2017 — $175,000 coming out of his own bank account. He’s never been shy about self-funding. Balukoff spent nearly $3.6 million of his own cash the last time he ran for governor in 2014.