Haswood wins contested primary, will become third Native American in history of Kansas Legislature
photo by: Contributed/Christina Haswood
Christina Haswood, a 26-year-old lifelong Lawrence resident, is now poised to become both the youngest sitting member of the Kansas Legislature and only the third Native American in the body’s history after handily winning a contested Democratic primary for the Kansas 10th District House seat.
The seat, which represents parts of Lawrence, along with Baldwin City and portions of rural Douglas County, did not draw a Republican candidate, so Haswood is expected to win the November general election.
A political newcomer, Haswood told the Journal-World when she first filed her candidacy that she threw her hat into the three-way race after being approached by members of the Lawrence community — and was hesitant at first.
But after taking some time to consider, she decided to use her public health expertise — Haswood recently graduated from KU Medical Center with a master’s degree in public health management — as her impetus for running. One of her main legislative priorities, she said throughout the entirety of her campaign, will be passing Medicaid expansion in Kansas.
Haswood’s candidacy quickly garnered support — drawing endorsements from Lawrence Mayor Jennifer Ananda and outgoing Rep. Eileen Horn, whom Haswood will replace. Haswood also secured financial support from former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who now lives in Lawrence, according to her campaign finance report filed at the end of July.
Tuesday’s results clearly decided Haswood as the winner over A.J. Stevens, the CEO of Baldwin City and Southern Railroad and a former Baldwin City Council member, and Brandon Holland, a Lawrence liquor store manager and son of area Sen. Tom Holland.
Haswood won 55% of all votes, 2,279 votes to Holland’s 505 and Stevens’ 455 with all of the district’s 19 precincts reporting. Those totals will likely change a bit in the coming days as mail in ballots that arrive at the county election office between Wednesday and 5 p.m. Friday continue to be counted.
“I’m just extremely proud of myself and my team for getting me here. I’m thankful for the voters for believing in me and wanting me to represent them,” Haswood said in a brief phone interview Tuesday night. “Being a lifelong Lawrence resident, born and raised in the 10th District, going through Lawrence’s K-12 schools … it’s just a surreal feeling. I’m just grateful to be in this position.”
Haswood said that Holland had called to congratulate her on the victory, but she had not yet heard from Stevens.
Haswood is a registered member of Navajo Nation and received her associate degree from Haskell Indian Nations University in community health.
Growing up, Haswood and her family struggled with poverty, she told the Journal-World, and as a traditionally marginalized community, she grew up somewhat disenfranchised with politics and government. But she said that lived experience opened her eyes to policy disparities and how “a zip code can determine your life expectancy.”
She currently works as a research assistant with the National Council of Urban Indian Health and the Center for American Indian Community Health, studying the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Native populations as well as tribal youth nicotine addiction.
As there is no Republican challenger, Haswood will run unopposed in the Nov. 3 general election and would take office in January when the next session of the Kansas Legislature convenes.