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Navajo Nation President Endorses Former Leader Over his VP

Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic

The Navajo Nation president is endorsing a man he beat for the job in the last election cycle to succeed him.

Russell Begaye announced his endorsement of Joe Shirley Jr. on Monday at a campaign event in Albuquerque.

He says Shirley, who served two terms as president, has the experience to guide the tribe through an economic blow when a coal-fired power plant on the reservation closes next year.

Shirley is facing Begaye's vice president, Jonathan Nez, in the Nov. 6 election.

Nez and Begaye distanced themselves months ago as they campaigned separately for the presidency. Begaye placed fifth among a record field of 18 candidates.

Nez's campaign manager, Clara Pratte, says she doesn't expect the endorsement to have a major impact. She says Begaye is not a popular president.

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