Wenona Benally Baldenegro, a member of the Navajo Nation, could become the first American Indian woman elected to Congress. She is seeking a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for Arizona’s 1st District.
The same title was sought just four years ago when Mary Kim Titla (San Carlos Apache Tribe) also ran in Arizona’s 1st District. Although Titla garnered a significant percentage of the vote, she was unable to defeat the more experienced state legislator, Ann Kirkpatrick, in her primary. Kirkpatrick then went on to win the general election and served one term before she was defeated in her bid for reelection.
Benally Baldenegro will also face Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona’s Democratic Primary Election on August 28, 2012.
The incumbent Republican Paul Gosar, who defeated Kirkpatrick in 2010, will also seek reelection this year, but will be moving to Arizona’s 4th District. Gosar’s decision is likely a result of the state’s recent redistricting, which created an advantage for Democrats in the 1st District.
According to an article on politic365.com, there are 11 different tribes located in the newly redrawn 1st District. The Navajo and Hopi tribes have endorsed her candidacy.
Benally Baldenegro has a master’s degree in public policy as well as a juris doctorate degree from Harvard University. She is also an experienced public policy advocate who formerly worked for the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona.