Jackson considers run against Renzi
By Bill Donovan
Special to the Navajo Times
WINDOW ROCK – Jack Jackson Jr. is the latest Navajo to think he has a chance of making it to Congress.
Jackson, a state senator, announced Monday that he is seriously considering making a run for Arizona’s 1st District, which is now held by Republican Rep. Rick Renzi.
U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., chairman of the Congressional Campaign Committee, is looking at districts that could go to the Democrats two years from now and one of the key fights may be the Renzi seat in Arizona.
Renzi, now in his second term, is a Republican in a predominantly Democratic district. In fact, the Democrats outnumber the Republicans better than 4-1 in some Navajo precincts.
The problem, however, is that the Democrats have had a difficult time in the past getting the Democrats to come out and vote. In fact, Renzi, who has received half-hearted endorsements by the Navajo Nation Council (they also endorsed his opponent in the last election) has carried many Navajo precincts in the last two elections, showing he has support on the Navajo Reservation.
Jackson said when he received the message from Emanuel that a Democrat could win in 2006, he was also surprised when the congressman said he believed that that person who could do it was Jackson.
Other Navajos, including Lloyd House and Derrick Watchman, have tried and failed to get non-Indians in the district to support their cause.
But Jackson said he is different.
“The people of Arizona’s 1st District know me,” he said. “They know me because I fought for much of the district in the Arizona State Legislature. They know me because my father (Jack Jackson Sr.), who blessed me with his name, fought for them for 19 years.”
He added that off-reservation voters know him for “fighting for tribes, for fairness and equal rights for the environment, for better schools, for jobs, for health care, for fighting for a better Arizona. They know me, I know them and I can beat Rick Renzi.”
Jack Jackson Sr., who now works for DinÃ© College, said he also believes his son can become the first Navajo to be elected to Congress.
“He has all of the qualifications,” he said.
Sure, he added, Renzi is popular and is credited with bringing federal dollars to the Navajo Reservation. But what about all of the cuts the Navajos have been seeing in federal programs that help the Navajo people? Where has Renzi been doing about stopping that? said Jack Jackson Sr.
One of the major obstacles that Jack Jackson Jr. will face in such a race is money. Will he be able to get enough financial support to buy those all-important television and newspaper ads?
Jackson Sr. said he didn’t think that would be a problem.
“The main difference between my son and the Navajos who ran and lost is that he has national support,” Jackson Sr. said. And this national support will mean more funds for his campaign.
Jackson Jr. said he has already been receiving funds to help defray the expenses of an exploratory committee that he set up to look at the possibility of his candidacy.
Persons who want to know more about Jackson’s efforts can call the committee at 928-699-6104 or write to the Jack Jackson Exploratory Committee, 4140 N. Central Ave., No. 3080, Phoenix, AZ. 85012.