According to a news report by the Salt Lake Tribune, Navajo-based democrat, James Singer, recently announced his bid to overthrow seven-term Utah republican, Senator Orrin Hatch.
Singer initially made plans to run after participating in several local rallies in Salt Lake City following President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Campaigning before an audience of 100 people, Singer stated: “in 2018, there should be native people running in every contest.”
If his plans follow through, Singer will make history as the first Navajo-based candidate to campaign for the U.S. Senate. The democrat officially filed as a candidate in April, 2017 and has since accumulated roughly $3,000 in contributions. Per previous reports, Hatch has $3.5 million in campaign funds.
James Singer is a 34-year-old Mormon who believes that he is better equipped to relate to millennial crowds. He reasons that Senator Hatch no longer understands his voters, especially when it comes to his office’s blatant snub of tribal lands in Utah where Singer’s ancestors reside.
Highlighting President Obama’s designation of the Bears Ears National Monument, Singer affirmed his disdain of Utah’s republican members’ reaction to this announcement. Utah’s all-Republican party has made recurring efforts to overturn this title. These initiatives, according to Singer, are not supported by Native Americans in Utah.
“I’m disappointed in how the state representatives have acted,” Singer declared. Hatch’s office has not commented on the subject.
In his interview, Singer drew parallels of this unfolding situation with the Sioux tribe at Standing Rock. He stated it has “marked an awakening for indigenous peoples”. Despite President Trump’s approval to continue the Dakota Access Pipeline project, Native Americans are fighting back with extended sit-ins. As a result, more awareness has been raised about the abuse of political power in many constituents.
Singer believes that indigenous tribes will continue to be regarded as second-class citizens unless considerable changes are made in governing institutions.
Singer was raised in Kearns and relocated to Salt Lake City where he previously worked at Diné Policy Institute overseeing the Navajo Nation in Arizona project. He now serves as an adjunct professor at Westminster College and Salt Lake Community College and is pursuing a doctorate in sociology at Utah State University. Singer is also the co-founder of the Utah League of Native American Voters.
Singer stated that his determination to represent minority groups was bolstered by Trump’s executive orders to ban certain refugees and immigrants. The now court-blocked order hit close to home as his wife, Carolina, is a Venezuelan migrant who fled her homeland more than 15 years ago. The pair has an 11-month-old daughter.
As Singer sets his eyes on challenging 83-year-old Hatch in his eight consecutive run for office, he also said that he may withdraw from the race should health challenges arise.
Singer moreover faces strong competition from Democrat Jenny Wilson and independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin who have indicated interest in joining the race.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune