Navajo Nation Presidential Race Headed to Runoff

For the first time, a woman has been chosen as one of two candidates facing off for the presidency of the Navajo Nation, whose reservation is the largest in the United States.

With unofficial results in from all but one of the tribe's 110 chapters Wednesday, President Joe Shirley Jr. had 28 percent of the vote, followed by challenger Lynda Lovejoy with 22 percent, forcing a runoff election.

"The results show people want a change in the way our government is functioning," said Lovejoy, a member of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

The results still have to be certified by tribal elections officials, expected within 30 days.

Economic development is expected to be among one of the top issues in the election as the tribe struggles to address poverty and unemployment on the 27,000-square-mile reservation that spans the northeast corner of Arizona and adjoining areas of New Mexico and Utah.

Turnout was nearly 48 percent among the 96,582 Navajo eligible to vote.