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Navajo presidential hopeful had to choose new running mate

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – A Navajo presidential candidate has selected a new running mate after finding out his previous pick was ineligible.

Joe Shirley Jr. chose Buu Van Nygren, a 31-year-old with a background in construction management from the Utah portion of the reservation.

Shirley announced earlier Tuesday that Peter Deswood III would join his ticket. But the tribe’s election office said Deswood isn’t a registered voter and, therefore, is ineligible to be a vice presidential candidate.

Deswood said he believed he was registered but was among more than 55,000 Navajos recently purged from the voter rolls. Tribal law says that’s done when voters do not cast ballots in two consecutive major elections.

Nygren has a bachelor’s degree in construction management and a master’s in business administration from Arizona State University. Nygren works for a national construction company as an operations trainer.

Shirley will face current tribal Vice President Jonathan Nez in the Nov. 6 general election.

Nez chose Myron Lizer, who runs hardware stores on the reservation, as his running mate.

Presidential candidates don’t run on party lines but typically pick a running mate from another state to broaden their voter base.

Shirley is from Arizona and Deswood lives in New Mexico.

Nez bucked the tradition. He and Lizer both are from Arizona.

The reservation is the country’s largest at 27,000 square miles, also taking in part of southern Utah.

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