Democrats are trying to hold onto the Senate by ramping up their attacks against the Washington Redskins, hoping to mobilize enough Native American voters in key states in the Mountain West and Alaska to eke out some Senate races.
According to the New York Times, Congressional Democrats, led Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), “are on a public shaming campaign to pressure” Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s name.
President Barack Obama has helped out too, saying he would consider changing the team’s name were he the Redskins owner and, as the Times noted, when “Obama traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota” this month, he was the first sitting president to visit “Indian land” since Bill Clinton in 1999.
The Times also noted that in 2012, Sen. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) won in Montana and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) won in North Dakota by 3,000 votes with the help of Native Americans. Democrats are trying to defend other seats in Alaska, Colorado, and Montana, all states that have significant Native American populations. In Montana, for instance, “Native Americans make up 6.5 percent of the voting-age population, or 50,000 people.”
The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently revoked the Washington Redskins trademark and Reid has said that the Redskins would change their name within three years, even though Snyder has said the team “NEVER” would do so. Reid has also refused to attend Redskins games until the team changes his name after the team invited him to their games this season. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has also blasted the Redskins and Senate Democrats recently signed a letter to the NFL urging the league to change the team’s name. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has even met with NFL officials to discuss a potential name change for the Redskins.
The majority of Americans believe the Redskins should not change their name, but Democrats are hoping that Native Americans will be outraged enough to take out their anger at the ballot box.