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BOISE — When Larry EchoHawk was the Democratic nominee for governor of Idaho in 1994, he was widely expected to win, which would have made him the first Native American elected governor of any state.

EchoHawk, a member of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, already had made history when he was the first Native American elected to any state constitutional office with his election as Idaho Attorney General in 1990, an office in which he served until 1995. He was a featured speaker at the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

EchoHawk went on to work as a law professor for 14 years at his alma mater, Brigham Young University; served as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs under President Obama; and held numerous high positions in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including serving as a General Authority of the Quorums of the Seventies.

When EchoHawk was running for governor, reporters from all over the world came to Idaho to interview the man who the L.A. Times reported was “poised to become the nation’s first Native American governor.” He led in the polls, drew big, unsolicited contributions from Hollywood stars and was endorsed by then-president Bill Clinton. But EchoHawk ended up losing to a self-described onion farmer and former lieutenant governor and state lawmaker from Wilder named Phil Batt, swinging the Idaho governor’s seat back to the Republicans for the first time since 1970, and launching an unbroken GOP hold on the office that’s still there today.

So why bring all this up now? When Paulette Jordan, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and former state legislator ran as the Democratic nominee for governor last year, that made history, too — she was the first Native American woman to be the nominee of a major party for the office.

Filmmaker Heather Rae made a documentary about Jordan’s historic run, titled “Paulette,” that has premiered to positive receptions at film festivals in Seattle and Sun Valley.

And now the Idaho Democratic Party is hosting a “Paulette” screening in Boise, at the Egyptian Theatre, on July 17; it’s a fundraiser for the party. But the notes about the film in the online Eventbrite invitation to the event sent out by the party take things a bit far, declaring Jordan “the first female and first Native American to run for the highest seat in office.”

She’s not the first Native American to run for governor of Idaho; EchoHawk had that distinction. And she’s certainly not the first female to run.

Just since 2010, four women have appeared on Idaho’s general election ballot for governor. Jana Kemp, running as an independent, got 5.9% of the vote in 2010. Independent Jill Humble got 2% in 2014. And in 2018, the same year Jordan was the Democratic nominee, Bev “Angel” Boeck, the Libertarian Party candidate, drew 1.1%.

In 1990, state Sen. Rachel Gilbert came in second to Roger Fairchild in the GOP primary for governor; Fairchild lost to popular Democratic incumbent Cecil Andrus, who won an unprecedented fourth term as Idaho governor.

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AND HIS LAST LAWSUIT WAS…

A Boundary County man and frequent candidate for office has filed a federal lawsuit, charging that check stations set up by the Idaho Department of Fish & Game requiring motorists to stop are violations of the Idaho and U.S. constitutions. Steve Tanner is seeking a court order to prohibit Idaho Fish & Game from operating the stations, the AP reports, and also is seeking more than $100,000 from the state agency.

State officials say check stations are allowed under Idaho law to catch poachers, collect harvest information and check for diseases in game animals.

In the lawsuit Tanner says he drove past a check station in November 2017 but was pulled over by officers with guns drawn and taken into custody.

Tanner, 66, a longtime self-employed logger and wood products worker, has run unsuccessfully for the state Legislature three times since 2010, twice as a Democrat and once as a Republican. Tanner sued a local judge and an array of public officials in 1986 contending that he didn’t need a driver’s license because he was an ambassador of the “Kingdom of God.”

CWI PROF NAMED IDAHO WRITER IN RESIDENCE

Author Malia Collins of Boise has been named the Idaho Writer in Residence for a two-year term starting July 1 by the Idaho Commission on the Arts. In that role, Collins, author of short stories, essays and two children’s books and a professor at the College of Western Idaho, will give at least four readings a year throughout the state.

“Collins writes splendid prose full of warmth and vivid imagery,” a panel of judges who reviewed the applicants anonymously said about her work.

In addition to teaching English and creative writing at CWI, Collins has worked as a teaching writer with The Cabin’s Writers in the Schools program and currently teaches at Writers at Harriman, among other writing-related activities.

The Writer in Residence is the highest literary recognition accorded an Idaho writer; past awardees include Diane Raptosh, 2013; Brady Udall, 2010; Anthony Doerr, 2007; and Kim Barnes, 2004. Collins will receive a $10,000 award.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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