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Candidates for governor court Native American voters

October 31, 2018
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File - This combination of file photos shows Steve Pearce, left, on July 30, 2018 and Michelle Lujan Grisham on July 2, 2018, in Albuquerque, N.M. Two candidates for governor of New Mexico are scheduled to meet for a final public debate in the midst of early voting across the state. Republican Pearce and Democrat Lujan Grisham were scheduled to debate Tuesday evening, in a race dominated by concerns about poverty, public education and crime. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for a third consecutive term in office. (AP Photos/File)
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File - This combination of file photos shows Steve Pearce, left, on July 30, 2018 and Michelle Lujan Grisham on July 2, 2018, in Albuquerque, N.M. Two candidates for governor of New Mexico are scheduled to meet for a final public debate in the midst of early voting across the state. Republican Pearce and Democrat Lujan Grisham were scheduled to debate Tuesday evening, in a race dominated by concerns about poverty, public education and crime. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for a third consecutive term in office. (AP Photos/File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Candidates for governor of New Mexico courted Native American communities that account for roughly one in 10 voters statewide on Wednesday, during the final days of early voting.

Democratic Congresswoman and gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham says she has the endorsement of 10 tribes and a long list Navajo chapter houses that provide local government forums within the Navajo Nation.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce has touted his work in Congress toward creating housing opportunities for Native American communities. He has the endorsement of Navajo leaders including the former Navajo Nation Supreme Court Justice Tom Tso.

Matthew Martinez, the lieutenant governor of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo in northern New Mexico, said his tribe’s endorsement of Lujan Grisham reflects her commitment to consulting with Native American communities about public policies.

“She talks about that she will not be the only governor in the state,” Martinez said. “There are other pueblo governors that deserve to have a voice at the table and she’s committed to collaboration and consultation.”

He praised Lujan Grisham specifically on her support for a landmark court order on public education that seeks greater resources of Native American and other minority students under provisions of the state’s Indian Education Act.

Lujan Grisham has said she would drop the state’s appeal of the lawsuit by public school district and parents who say the state is failing basic education obligations to students from low-income and minority families.

Pearce has campaigned on making improvements to student academic achievement by giving teachers more autonomy in the classroom. He also wants to expand vocational training for students who don’t seek a four-year college degree.

Pearce campaign spokesman Kevin Sheridan highlighted the congressman’s efforts to combating the forgery and smuggling of fake products designed to look Native American-made jewelry.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for a consecutive third term.

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