Candidate defends stance that she’s the ‘real Idahoan’ in race

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COEUR d’ALENE — During a Press interview Thursday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan doubled down on her Sept. 21 comments with 670 KBOI radio host Nate Shelman that she is “the only real Idahoan, the only real American running for this position as governor of a state in our country.”

When asked to expand on her Sept. 21 statement, Jordan told The Press: “... to say that I am the real Idahoan, meaning that I haven’t come from Scotland, I didn’t come from any other country. I’m from here, which is why I’m so fully invested in protecting our Idaho into perpetuity.”

When asked to clarify her claim to be the “only” and “real” Idahoan in the campaign, she continued, “For example, my opposition, you know, he’s a third-generation Scotsman. And I don’t have another country to say that I can go back to or go home to.”

Jordan was asked twice more to explain her statement.

“You singled out Brad Little and you called him a ‘third-generation Scotsman,’” the Press reporter said. “You talked about yourself being the only candidate who is really invested to the land and to the state, and so what I’m asking you to clarify is, are you therefore saying that Brad Little and others who descend from Europe, or Africa, or other places in the world, are not fully invested to the land and to their children and to the state? Is that what you are saying?”

Her response: “Well, again, I want to clarify with you ­— which you’re splitting hairs here — is just to say that I am fully invested. That’s it. I have a right to be fully invested in our land here.”

The Little family came to Idaho generations ago from Scotland, with Little’s grandfather, Andy Little, becoming well-known for his agricultural business prowess. Coeur d’Alene journalist and trailblazer Louise Shadduck wrote a biography of him called, “Andy Little: Idaho Sheep King.”

On Friday, Idaho Republican Party chairman Jonathan Parker called Jordan’s remarks “absolutely deplorable and offensive.” He said Jordan’s comments “would hurt relations between many different races of Americans,” and would “strain and cause further problems for our country that are unnecessary.”

Shem Hanks, chairman of the Kootenai County Democratic Central Committee, said he hopes Jordan didn’t mean that Little and other Americans of European descent should go back to Europe.

“I am a 12th-generation descendant of an Englishman,” Hanks told The Press. “My family was deemed as traitors by the British for joining the Virginia Militia in 1780. I don’t have another country to go back to. I would say that most Idahoans are in the same boat regardless of where they were from originally. It is important that we remain a melting pot that is accepting of different cultures and perspectives.”

Hanks did not disavow Jordan’s statements, but said, “Paulette carries the perspective of a person who is indigenous to our area and whose people have a history of mistreatment by the government. My hope would be that she works to bring us all together and not tear us apart.”

Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Kristin Collum defended Jordan, saying “While she didn’t articulate it like I would, I believe Paulette Jordan’s intent was simply to contrast herself with her opponent, Brad Little, by pointing out that he, a third-generation Idahoan, is still a newcomer compared to the generations that Paulette’s ancestors have been on these lands.”

A spokesman for the state Democratic legislative leadership declined to comment on Jordan’s remarks.

The remarks spotlight a pattern in Jordan’s campaign of singling out her opponents, and people like them, on account of race, sex, and age. In an interview with BuzzFeed in April before her primary election victory over Democratic rival A.J. Balukoff, Jordan said, “This is a generation that says, we’re not going to tolerate old white men telling us to step aside anymore.”

Balukoff is a 72-year-old white male who served as a member of the Boise School District Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2018. He is a businessman, certified public accountant, husband, and father of eight children, according to Ballotpedia and VoteSmart.org.

In a May 4 interview with Teen Vogue, Jordan singled out “white men” three times, and identified them with political corruption. Jordan said, “...women are tired of being told to step aside and wait their turn by older white men, especially wealthy white men. Older and wealthy white men have had their fair share of time corrupting our politics and we’re tired of that.”

Immediately after her primary election victory, Jordan explained her win by again singling out “older white males” in remarks to the Idaho Statesman. “They see someone who actually cares, who understands their story and that’s different because they are not talking to older white males.”

More recently in a Sept. 23 Rolling Stone interview, Jordan attributed a lack of compassion and sincerity to men, and said electing women would bring those qualities into politics.

“Women not only have the right, the power and the ability, but we can show a different kind of leadership that’s compassionate and sincere,” she told the magazine.

Little is a 64-year-old white male. He is also a husband, father of two, grandfather of five, businessman, and Idaho’s current lieutenant governor. He replied to Jordan’s remarks Friday.

“There are roughly 1.7 million people living in Idaho, and that number is growing,” Little told The Press. “People are moving to Idaho because they want to experience what we already know — our economy is strong and the opportunities here are growing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been here for seven generations, like my grandkids, or you just moved to Idaho seven days ago — I’m running for governor to serve all Idahoans.”

The Idaho Democratic Party, Human Rights Education Institute, and Democratic candidate for Congress Cristina McNeil did not respond to requests for comment.

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