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Jordan to challenge Risch for Idaho’s U.S. Senate seat

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 7, 2020

In this Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 photo then Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan addresses supporters at an election night party in Boise, Idaho. Jordan has announced she's challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch. Jordan announced Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, she plans to run against the two-term senator. (Diane Loos / Associated Press)
In this Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 photo then Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan addresses supporters at an election night party in Boise, Idaho. Jordan has announced she's challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch. Jordan announced Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, she plans to run against the two-term senator. (Diane Loos / Associated Press)
By Keith Ridler Associated Press

BOISE – Former Idaho Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state lawmaker Paulette Jordan announced Friday that she’s challenging two-term Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch.

“I’m running because we need a senator who will work to re-engineer our government to prioritize American prosperity, protect our precious land and resources, fight for affordable, quality healthcare, and ensure a world-class education for our children,” said Jordan

Jordan in 2018 became the first woman to become the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Idaho but lost in the general election to Republican Brad Little.

The 40-year-old Jordan is a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. She’s a former two-term state representative with a long history of working on the tribal council.

“Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to thousands of Idahoans throughout this great state, and what I’ve learned is that Idaho is in need of new leadership,” she said. “Idahoans are fed up. People from all walks of life are frustrated with the partisan gridlock in Congress and they are calling for a leader who represents them.”

Jordan said that she’ll fight for the rights of rural Idahoans and Native Americans while focusing on the environment and justice.

Jordan has generally advocated for progressive policies, including teacher loan forgiveness, better rural education, better access to healthcare, and more economic development and opportunity for struggling communities.

She’ll face a difficult task in red-state Idaho, where the entire Congressional delegation is Republican and all five statewide elected offices are held by Republicans. Republicans also hold super-majorities in the Idaho House and Senate.

The last Native American to hold a statewide office in Idaho was Larry Echo Hawk, who was the attorney general in the early 1990s.

Jordan joins three other Democrats in seeking to unseat the 76-year-old Risch, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has been an avid supporter of President Donald Trump. Trump is popular in Idaho, having won about 60% of the vote in 2016.

“There are now four candidates running to become the Democrat nominee in this race,” Risch said in a statement. “All of them have a clear desire to advance the liberal socialist agenda. I look forward to putting my record of fiscal conservatism, common sense solutions and proven leadership against any one of these individuals.”

Risch has a lengthy career in Idaho politics, serving briefly as governor in 2006. He also served as a lieutenant governor and as an Idaho senator.

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