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Former Navajo Nation president launches bid to unseat Arizona Rep. Eli Crane

  • Former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez on Monday announced his intent to challenge Republican Arizona Rep. Eli Crane for his congressional seat.
  • Crane, a staunchly conservative House freshman, unseated incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran last year.
  • “Being a Democrat, a father, a husband, a faith-based individual and just wanting something better for all our children into the future. That’s why I’m in this race,” Nez told the Arizona Daily Sun.

Former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez announced Monday that he’s running for Congress.

Nez said he will challenge incumbent Eli Crane, who has represented Arizona’s redrawn 2nd Congressional District since last year.

The district covers a large portion of northern and eastern Arizona and includes 14 of the 22 federally recognized tribes within the state.

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In an interview with the Arizona Daily Sun, Nez said he’s disappointed with the divisiveness in politics, the dysfunction in the capitol and the role Arizona representatives have played in that dysfunction.

“Being a Democrat, a father, a husband, a faith-based individual and just wanting something better for all our children into the future. That’s why I’m in this race,” Nez told the newspaper.

He continued, “There’s a lot of issues that the folks in our district are wanting us to address, like affordable childcare, affordable housing and quality healthcare.”

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Nez, 48, was the Navajo Nation’s president from 2019-23 after serving four years as the tribe’s vice president.

He lost in his presidential reelection bid last year and now hopes to become the first Native American to represent Arizona in Congress.

However, the state’s 2nd district has about 30,000 more voters registered as Republicans than as Democrats with an estimated 160,000 voters registered as independent.

Nez said he believes voters care less about which party holds the seat than whether their representatives are taking concrete action to improve their lives.

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