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Tribal Leader To Challenge McMorris Rodgers For Congressional Seat

A Native American is the newest challenger in the race for the Congressional seat currently held by Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Joe Pakootas, CEO for the Colville Federal Tribal Corporation and former tribal chairman, has announced his intention to run as a Democrat in the race against Republican Rep. Rodgers.

Pakootas touts turning around the fortunes of the Colville business community as one of his accomplishments.

“I've brought that corporation from $8.5 million in the red to $2.3 million in the black within nine months," he said. 

Pakootas says in his various role with the tribe, including tribal chairman, he made numerous trips to Washington, D.C. in lobbying efforts with the Congress, working on issues that included negotiating a settlement for the tribe on the Grand Coulee Dam, land settlements, education funding and the Violence Against Women Act.

Pakootas feels he has a good chance to unseat McMorris Rodgers, who has held the 5th Congressional district seat since 2005. He says he believes events in the last year — the government shutdown, debt ceiling issues, “the number of people that are on food stamps, the number unemployed, and the number at the poverty level”— have strengthened the resolve of voters that change is necessary.

Pakootas says his Native American ancestry has equipped him with a better understanding of the plight of the disadvantaged. He also cites the tribes’ success in creating 400 new jobs for the Federal Tribal Corporation in the last two years as a sign of his efforts to deal with such issues.