At crunch time, candidates using money as best as they can

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK, Aug. 14, 2014

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With less than 13 days to go before the Navajo Nation primary for president and the Council, presidential candidates are beginning to set priorities to get their message to the voters.

It's all a matter of using campaign funds as effectively as possible and that usually means buying radio time on the three radio stations that cater to the Navajo-speaking audience -- KTNN in Window Rock, KGAK in Gallup and KNDN in Farmington.

KTNN, as usual, seems to be getting the most of any of the radio stations but political ads are picking up at both KGAK and KNDN.

"It's been a frenzy," said David Singer, manager at KGAK, adding that the closer it gets to election day, the more political ads he is expecting to see.

"New names are popping up everyday," he said, referring to the presidential candidates who are sending in advertising requests.

The great majority of the spot ads and remotes are coming from two candidates -- current president Ben Shelly and the tribe's past president, Joe Shirley Jr., both of whom have booked time -- a lot of time -- in advance for these last two weeks.

Patrick Sandoval, campaign manager for Shirley, said the campaign's strategy was to hold off on radio advertising until it would do the most good.

As a result, the campaign has scheduled advance times for its remaining remotes at the various stations with the emphasis on getting on those stations that have the most listeners for the area where the remote in being held.

"Our big rally will be held at our headquarters in Window Rock at 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 24," he said. The rally will continue until 5 p.m.

The campaign is also holding a meet and greet on Friday beginning at 4:30 p.m. local time at the Sacred Hogan Restaurant in Phoenix. On Saturday, the campaign will be at the Tuba City Chapter at 3 p.m.

The campaign is going to start putting spot ads on the various radio stations beginning today with Shirley speaking on the various issues such as veteran issues and economic opportunities.

A check of the various candidates running for president indicates, however, that a lot of them will not be booking any radio time because of their cost.

"Political ads are really expensive," said Edison "Chip" Begay, who said that he will be concentrating on hitting as many chapters and forums as he can in the time remaining before the election.

He said he also plans on being in the Chinle fair next week even though it will cost him $450.

"I was in the Ceremonial parade and that cost $450," he said, adding that entering the parades consumed much of his campaign revenue.

Kee Yazzie Mann, another of the 17 candidates running for president, said his campaign is also not able to use radio ads to get his message out, although he is trying to get on the air as much as possible by going to forums and events that allow him free radio time.

In the coming days, he said he plans to concentrate most of his efforts in the highly populated areas of the reservation as well as concentrating on his main group of supporters who include the elderly, veterans and grassroots people.

He admits that these people are hard to get to since they don't attend meetings. A good way to get to them, he said, was through the radio but that's for those who can afford it and get the financial support from the voters.

"There are so many of us running for president," he said, adding that people don't want to throw their money away by supporting someone who won't make it through the primary.

"They are waiting until (the general election) when there are only two candidates running," he said.

Another candidate, Duane "Chili" Yazzie, said he plans to spend the next two weeks continuing to get his message out to as many people as possible.

"We are going to focus on social media like Facebook," he said, saying his campaign is very low budget. "We don't have any plans immediately to do any radio spots."

He said he didn't have the financial resources that some of the other campaigns have.

"That's OK because we decided we will not do the same old aggressive style of campaigning like everyone else is doing -- the big signs and flashing materials," Yazzie said. "We are going for rely on going hogan to hogan."

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