Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer running for congressional office in Arizona

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer is running as a Republican candidate for the Congressional District 2 seat in Arizona, he announced on March 1.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez selected Lizer as his running mate in September 2018. After winning the election that year, they took the oath of office in January 2019.

Lizer said his decision to run was "multifaceted" and it is an opportunity to take the next step politically by using his experience as vice president and his knowledge in business to represent the Navajo Nation and the communities in District 2.

"I'm a man who's advocated for my people, the Navajo Nation," Lizer said in a March 2 interview in Farmington.

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At right, Navajo Nation President Myron Lizer greets a member of the Navajo Nation during a break from a meeting on March 2 at the Quality Center for Business at San Juan College in Farmington.

In January, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission adopted new congressional and legislative districts in Arizona.

The state's representation in the U.S. House of Representatives is likely to shift to a Republican majority, The Arizona Republic reported in December.

Under the new map, the Navajo Nation in Arizona falls into District 2. The district's boundaries also reach into the western and southern portions of the state.

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Lizer said he wants to bridge the gap between the Republican and Democrat parties because he has worked on both sides of the aisle and sees what the political divide can do to harm legislation like the U.S. Senate bill to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

"They always say, any great legislation, any great bill for consideration that affects Navajo and Indian Country, you need bipartisan support," he said.

Lizer, who was in Farmington to receive an update about the railroad project in San Juan County, is aware that his decision could be viewed as a separation between him and Nez, who is a Democrat.

"It could be construed as that by others. Perception is a thousand times more powerful than intent. We can help quell that and push it down by being open and honest to interviewers, media," he said.

He continued, "there is none. There's never been anything. In fact, Jonathan and myself we fought hard and told our cabinet, everybody – do not pull us apart."

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Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer talks about his campaign for the Congressional District 2 in Arizona during an interview on March 2 in Farmington. Lizer announced his candidacy a day earlier on Twitter.

Lizer said he talked to Nez about his decision to run for congressional office before making the announcement on Twitter.

Jared Touchin, spokesman for the president's office said such a conversation took place between the two leaders.

"I appreciate Vice President Lizer for being transparent about his decision to seek a congressional seat," Nez said in a statement. "We had a productive discussion and at the end of the day, I respect his decision. We have a very good working relationship and I wish him and his family well as they seek to serve at another level of government."

The Navajo Nation will have an election this year for tribal president, vice president, council and other offices.

The filing period for candidates opens on April 21, according to the Navajo Election Administration.

Nez has not said he would run re-election.

The president will share his future plans soon, but he is now focused on mitigating COVID-19, completing the hardship assistance distribution and working on infrastructure projects, Touchin said.

In the meantime, Lizer will balance his role as vice president and his campaign.

"I'm still advocating for economic development, business development and all the other myriad issues that our Navajo Nation faces. My work won't stop," Lizer said.  

This might be the first time a sitting vice president is running for Congress. Lizer said there is no tribal law that prohibits him from doing so.

Sophia Solis, spokesperson for the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, said nothing in Arizona law would prevent Lizer from running for Congressional office.

While the state has a "resign-to-run" law, it does not apply to Lizer because he is not an officer of the State of Arizona, Solis explained.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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