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Former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez announces 2024 bid for Congress

Former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez speaks after being sworn in in 2019.
Felicia Fonseca/AP, file
Former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez speaks after being sworn in in 2019.

Former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has announced his campaign for Congress. He’ll take on first-term Republican Rep. Eli Crane in Arizona’s second district.

In his announcement Monday, Nez called for lawmakers to put aside divisiveness and focus on helping rural Arizona families.

He said he’d prioritize job creation, high gas and food costs and addressing climate change.

If elected Nez would become the first Native American to represent the state in Congress.

“I grew up in a rural, low-income home, in a long-overlooked community where my family lived paycheck-to-paycheck, worried about how we’d make ends meet. I understand the struggles that many Arizona families are facing right now,” said Nez.

During his single term as Navajo president, Nez led the tribe through the COVID-19 pandemic that claimed thousands of lives on the Navajo Nation.

He also focused on improving public infrastructure and expanding access to water and electricity. Nez lost reelection to current President Buu Nygren earlier this year.

Nez is vying to win the seat held by Representative Eli Crane, a conservative Republican who was elected last year.

Crane was one of eight House members who voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Arizona’s sprawling second district stretches from the northern parts of the state to suburban Phoenix and includes Flagstaff, Prescott and the Navajo Nation along with other Indigenous lands.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.