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Why I’m Running – Deb Haaland

Why I’m Running – Deb Haaland

A record number of women are running for office. Among them is Deb Haaland who is running for the U.S. House in New Mexico’s First District. In UniteWomen.org’s series entitled #WhyImRunning, Deb tells us about her background and why she decided to run for office.

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Why I’m Running For Congress

by Deb Haaland


I was struck by the hope, optimism and supportive words that I received from colleagues, friends and family when in May 2017 I announced my candidacy for New Mexico’s Congressional District 1, amid the backdrop of rancor and divisiveness that affects our politics in Washington D.C. today.


As an organizer, activist and advocate with nearly 20 years of working on the policies and the values that define me as a Democrat, one of my goals is to continually give voice to the underrepresented who make up the majority in our country. In fact, what initially motivated me was a desire to learn how to take responsibility for changes needed in our politics and to learn how our government could better impact the lives of the people I care about. I graduated from the Emerge NM political leadership training program for Democratic women in 2007, and it was such an immense learning and networking opportunity that it became clear to me I should put what I learned into action by running for office.


As a community leader, over the years, I have made thousands of phone calls, knocked on hundreds of doors; volunteering for candidates, causes, and campaigns I believed in; including Senator Barack Obama’s. During his campaign, I focused on learning more about how our politics really works, what it takes to win, and just how close any citizen can be to affecting real positive change.


I met then-political director, Susan Rice, during that 2008 campaign, and mentioned to her an important change that I felt needed to happen in the Senator’s speeches. She gave me the email address of the speechwriter. So I wrote a long, detailed email, sending a copy to her as instructed, and I was impressed to later find that the change I sought, actually happened. This key event helped me to realize that speaking up actually does make a difference.


I was hired as Native American Vote Director for President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. I had never before felt as energized and inspired as I did during those 16-hour-long days in which I engaged Native voters in the political process.


In 2014, I sought and became the Democratic nominee for New Mexico Lt. Governor. Though we lost that general election, I was proud to represent our Party. I realized that I wanted to lead, so in 2015 I ran for and won the Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairwomanship. I was the first Native woman to chair a major state part in the US, and I lead our Party through a tremendous victory in 2016, when we flipped our state house, increased seats in our state senate, and won 2 of 3 statewide elections. Hillary won by 8-points.


I am running for Congress, because here in central New Mexico we must support small businesses, and double down on green energy, while fighting climate change. We must support policies and programs that create good jobs, so that hardworking New Mexicans have a shot at opportunities for success. I’m running because decent healthcare for every American is a right and not a privilege, and because America’s role in the world as a beacon of freedom must represent the values of basic human decency and opportunity. Our public education system must never be privatized and must offer opportunity to every child. I’m running to protect social security and Medicare, and to continue to fight for equality for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters; and to hold Donald Trump and the Republicans accountable.


I want to provide another voice, as a Native American, single mom, daughter of military veterans and compassionate human being, against the cruel, vindictive and regressive policies being thrust on us by a White House and extreme right wing minority that seek to take us back and not toward the beacon of hope and opportunity that people in America and around the world should expect and certainly deserve.


I have never been as excited as I have been since announcing that I am running for Congress. We need more women in leadership positions throughout our country. So grab your sneakers, your friends and family, and help me and other Democratic women get into office in 2018!


Deb’s Website
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If you are a woman running for office, and would like to submit to #WhyImRunning, please send an email to Press@UniteWomen.org with your name, election, and contact information.



Debra HaalandDebra Haaland is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico. She is a graduate of UNM and the UNM School of Law, the former Chairwoman of the Laguna Development Corporation Board of Directors and a former tribal administrator. She has advocated for Indian issues for many years, including working to pass SB 482 in 2005, which gave members of New Mexico tribes in-state tuition at higher education institutions, regardless of their residency. If elected, Deb Haaland would be the first Native American woman to ever serve in Congress.


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