FOCUS ON: ARIZONA

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10 mins read

WHERE THINGS STAND IN ARIZONA TODAY

No state has seen a faster transition from red-to-purple since Donald Trump was elected. And for a state that for decades has been synonymous with traditional Republicans like Barry Goldwater and John McCain, the sudden shift has been remarkable.

In 2012, Mitt Romney won Arizona by 9 points. In 2016, Trump won Arizona by 3.5 points. 

Why? Because 60% of the Arizona electorate is located in the Phoenix metro area, and no candidate has turned off suburban voters like Donald Trump.

The results of 2018 bear this out: Democrats won a Senate seat for the first time in 22 years. And they also flipped 1 Congressional seat, 4 State House seats, Secretary of State, and more.

That momentum can continue in 2020. 

Here are the 9 big reasons why Arizona will be so important this year.

REASON #1 – DEFEATING DONALD TRUMP

Arizona is our top ‘back-up’ state. If we fail to flip Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin, winning Arizona’s 11 Electoral Votes will be an absolute must in order for us to stay in the game. 

The key to victory – both in this race and in the races below – is to win Maricopa County (Phoenix) by as large a margin as possible.

Polls show that it’s possible.

We have to make it a reality.

REASON #2 – DEFEATING MARTHA MCSALLY

After losing to Kyrsten Sinema in 2018, Martha McSally was appointed to John McCain’s open seat to fulfill the remainder of his term.

Since that time, McSally has embarrassed herself time and again, most recently suggesting that supporters skip meals in the midst of a devastated economy in order to make donations to her campaign.

Thankfully we have Mark Kelly – perhaps the Democrats’ strongest Senate candidate this cycle – waiting in the wings. The husband of gun violence victim Gabby Giffords, Mark has run an incredible campaign and will be someone that Arizonans can be proud of as their Senator.

REASON #3 – FLIPPING THE ARIZONA STATE HOUSE

In terms of the Arizona State Legislature, I put the Arizona State House ahead of the Arizona State Senate because it’s slightly more flippable and because it has been controlled by Republicans since *1966*. That more than anything is incentive to flip this chamber, and the ensuing headlines – “Democrats Flip Chamber For First Time in 54 Years” – will be humiliating for Trump and the Republican Party.

Every Arizona State Legislative district consists of 1 State Senator and 2 State House members. 

Typically Republicans and Democrats will each put up 2 State House candidates, and voters will pick the top 2 of the 4. After coming oh-so-close to flipping the chamber in 2018, Democrats have deployed a new strategy. Instead of putting forth 2 candidates in each district, they’ve only put forward 1. Why? My guess is to appeal to the increasingly moderate Republican voters in the state (allowing them to cast a ballot for a Republican and a Democrat), and to allow themselves to focus on fewer candidates. Democrats are only looking to flip the chamber by flipping 2 seats, not dilute their strength by trying to win every seat. And that’s a smart strategy.

The Arizona State House is made up of 60 seats. Democrats only need to flip *2* in order to take the chamber.

The best opportunities to flip seats are in Districts 6, 8, 11, 15, 20, 21, and 23.

You can see a map of the districts here.

REASON #4 – FLIPPING THE ARIZONA STATE SENATE

The Arizona State Senate is made up of 30 seats. All 30 seats are up for election this year, and a net gain of +3 seats would give Democrats control of this chamber for the first time since *1994*.

Note that if we flip the State House and/or the State Senate, we break up a Republican ‘trifecta’ and give Democrats a say in State Government for the first time in years.

The best opportunities to flip State Senate seats are in Districts 6, 8, 11, 17, 20, 21, 23, and 28.

State Senate seats that are currently held by Democrats which may be vulnerable are Districts 10 and 18.

You can see a map of the districts here.

REASON #5 – FLIPPING ARIZONA CONGRESSIONAL SEATS

After successfully flipping one Congressional seat in 2018, Democrats are aiming to flip two more in 2020.

In Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, Democrat Hiral Tipernani is running to unseat Republican David Schweikert. Schweikert was recently reprimanded for severe ethics violations and is vulnerable. Between that, the fact that Tipernani is such a strong candidate, and the fact that this is a trending blue suburban seat, this makes for a great opportunity. 

In Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, Democrat Michael Muscato is running to replace Republican Debbie Lesko. Lesko is one of the more embarrassing Congresswomen in the House, and it would be great to defeat her. But while this is also a trending-blue suburban district, it is more conservative than others, so it will be a tougher-but-not-impossible climb.

REASON #6 – BALLOT INITIATIVES

There are two major ballot initiatives that Arizonans will vote on this year, and both will impact the lives of many Arizonans.

207 – Legalization of recreational possession of marijuana

208 – Increases tax on incomes exceeding $250,000 for teacher salaries and schools

Each measure should be reviewed carefully in advance of casting your ballot. Pay close attention to the wording so that you can vote appropriately.


REASON #7 – MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

There are several major Arizona Municipal Elections this year.

Phoenix: Mayor and City Council

Mesa: Mayor and City Council

Chandler: City Council

Glendale: Mayor and City Council

Scottsdale: Mayor and City Council

In addition there are several elections for both Maricopa and Pima Counties.

Note that many of these races are “nonpartisan” and it will require research to determine who best to support in these important races.

REASON #8 – CORPORATION COMMISSION ELECTIONS

Arizona’s Corporation Commission, which oversees public utility companies, is made up of 5 seats. 

3 of those seats are up for election in 2020. 3 Democrats are vying with 3 Republicans in the same election, and the top 3 vote-getters win those 3 seats. 

Of the remaining seats not up for election, one is a Democrat and one is a Republican. 

So if Democrats flip just 2-of-the-3 seats, they take control of the Commission just four years after being shut out of it completely.

The Democratic candidates are William Mundell, Shea Stanfield, and Anna Tovar.

REASON #9 – ARIZONA COURT RETENTION ELECTIONS

The Arizona State Supreme Court is made up of 7 Justices. All 7 current Justices were appointed by Republicans.

Three of those Justices are up for retention elections this year. Retention elections are essentially a yes/no and do not feature other candidates. If a Justice is not retained a replacement is appointed by the Governor…who in this case is still a Republican.

So there is no chance to alter the political makeup of the court, but unsuccessful retentions could send a strong political message to the Governor to moderate his stances in an increasingly blue state.

The Justices up for retention elections are Chief Justice Robert Brutinel, Justice Andrew Gould, and Justice John Lopez.

The Arizona Court of Appeals has 22 judges, and 11 of them are up for retention elections. Of those 11 only one was appointed by a Democratic Governor and needs your support: Garye Vasquez

Long story short, if you want more Democrats in the Arizona State Judiciary, elect Democratic Governors. Your next chance to do so will be in 2022.

Thank you for taking the time to read about why Arizona is so important this year.

Keep in mind that these are not the only reasons to Focus on Arizona in 2020. There are a number of other local elections worth your time and attention as well.

If you’d like to help Focus on Arizona, please sign up HERE for the DemCast “Focus14” Arizona effort.

And for more analysis, follow me at @trumpstaxes on Twitter.


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