Paulette Jordan Just Got One Step Closer to Becoming the Country’s First Native American Governor

This week’s Recharge celebrates discoveries that help our world and people who want to change it for the better.

Paulette Jordan campaign

Triumphant as the Democratic nominee in Idaho’s gubernatorial primary last week, Paulette Jordan now has an uphill ride in the general election: Her state hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1990.

But Jordan, 38, has bucked tough challenges before. If she wins, she’ll be the first woman to run Idaho and the first Native American governor in US history. Jordan, an enrolled member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, is popular in the deeply red state and has drawn support from unions, liberal groups, and even, according to HuffPost, one of her mom’s favorite singers: Cher.

Jordan hopes to raise the minimum wage, expand Medicaid, and increase education funding. She draws inspiration from her ancestors, many of whom were tribal chiefs: “They taught me the way,” she said.

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  • A glimmer of hope for an endangered species. In March, the last male northern white rhino was euthanized due to old age. Only two female rhinos of the subspecies remain, but they are not able to bear calves. It may not be the end, however: scientists at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park were able to successfully impregnate a southern white rhino through artificial insemination. Researchers hope she can one day become a surrogate mother to the related northern white rhino. The pregnancy is a “critical step in our effort to save the northern white rhino,” said Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. (Associated Press)
  • How could she save her dying husband? The answer was centuries old. Steffanie Strathdee was running out of options to save her husband. Tom Patterson was in a coma after catching a superbug that was resistant to every antibiotic doctors tried. Strathdee, an infectious-disease epidemiologist, wondered: What about that ancient Eastern European treatment? Phage therapy uses viruses to attack and kill specific bacteria. It’s almost never used in the United States—and not licensed by the FDA. Strathdee convinced doctors to use the therapy. Patterson came out of his coma, and emerged from the hospital in August 2016—the first person in the United States to have been successfully treated intravenously with phages. It prompts the question: Can phages be used to save some of the 23,000 people who die from resistant infections in the United States each year? (Mother Jones)
  • Not to be deterred: She survived the Cambodian genocide, now she’s a University of California-Berkeley grad. For two days, the Khmer Rouge left her in a field, tied to a bush, without food or water. If Chansitha Ouk could make it through Cambodia’s killing fields as a 9-year-old, she could, at age 50, get her undergraduate degree in media studies from UC-Berkeley. “The childhood that I lost—Berkeley healed me,” Ouk, who hopes to become an education advocate, said before her graduation on May 16. “I feel that education healed me and gave me strength and hope.” Ouk’s childhood vanished at age 7 when the murderous Khmer Rouge separated her from her family and put her in a children’s work camp. She made it to a refugee camp in Thailand, learned some English and arrived in San Francisco in 1984. In her application for Berkeley more than three decades later, she wrote: “I am not a smart student, but I am a hard-working student. My English still broken. But my dream isn’t.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Unlikely allies: Two dads, brought together by a shared tragedy. Ryan Petty is a self-described libertarian who doesn’t think guns were the root cause of the school massacre on February 14. Fred Guttenberg wants more restrictions on gun ownership to be the legacy of his child’s death. Petty is laid back; Guttenberg is hard-charging. While they’re working on different approaches to school safety after the massacre, they’re also showing a polarized America that two people with very different views can find common ground. Together, they’ve backed several bills on both school safety and gun reform—including a package of reforms passed by Florida lawmakers that banned bump stocks and increased the minimum age for buying rifles and shotguns to 21. They’ve also begun to appreciate each other. “Seriously, I love the guy,” Petty said of Guttenberg. (Mother Jones)

That’s it for this edition! We hope these stories help you in the week ahead. Have a tip or a link? Email us at recharge@motherjones.com

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