Press Releases

ICYMI: A decisive vote for democracy in Arizona [WaPo]

Nov 16, 2022

Last week, Arizona voters sent a clear message: They reject the GOP’s extremist and anti-democracy politics because leaders should work to uphold the voice and vote of every Arizonan.

ECU // LAV played a pivotal role in defeating these threats to our democracy in Arizona, helping to elect Mark Kelly, Katie Hobbs, and Adrian Fontes–with Kris Mayes currently leading in the vote. ECU President Tiffany Muller campaigned with Senator Kelly to highlight his record taking on corruption and threats to our democracy in the Senate and with Adrian Fontes and Kris Mayes to discuss how they will both uphold the will of the people.

ECU also ran ads in the secretary of state and attorney general races to highlight how the GOP candidates in those races threatened free and fair elections in Arizona.

WaPo: A decisive vote for democracy in Arizona

Reis Thebault and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

Key points:

  • In the waning weeks of Arizona’s midterm election campaign, from the red rocks in the state’s north to the desert border in its south, one word reverberated: democracy.

  • Democrats warned that the stakes for the nation were life-or-death, that the country’s system of governance itself was on the ballot, while Republicans doubled-down on their attacks against the rule of law and democratic norms.

  • In the end, after nearly a week of ballot counting, voters here returned a resounding verdict.

  • Rather than picking for governor a Trump-endorsed election denier who wanted to remake voting in this crucial swing state ahead of the 2024 presidential cycle, they chose the Democrat who oversaw the 2020 election and emerged as a voice for the people’s will while she weathered an avalanche of attacks from ousted president Donald Trump.

  • In the U.S. Senate race, voters rejected a first-time candidate who declared in a campaign ad that “Trump won in 2020” and instead reelected a Democrat who ran on bipartisanship and evacuated the U.S. Capitol as rioters overtook it on Jan. 6, 2021. And for secretary of state, who oversees elections, they jettisoned a state lawmaker who was on the Capitol grounds that day in favor of an outspoken liberal who pledged to protect and expand voting rights.

  • But Arizonans, who pride themselves on a maverick spirit, unexpectedly delivered Democrats their best results in decades. Defying pollsters and political strategists, voters backed candidates who promised to preserve the guardrails of democracy.

  • It was a trend that defined this year’s midterm elections across the country.

  • Democrats kept control of the Senate and netted at least two governorships and at least three statehouse legislative chambers. While the GOP is still favored to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the party has gained far fewer seats than expected.

  • In Arizona, experts and analysts said Republican candidates misread the electorate, betting that Trump-style talking points would energize the party’s base. But the results suggest that approach alienated many moderates and independents, who appear to have sided with Democrats, abstained from certain races or sat out the election altogether, delivering liberals one of their largest victories in state history.

  • “In this election, Arizonans chose solving our problems over conspiracy theories,” Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs (D) said at a victory rally on Tuesday. “We chose sanity over chaos, and we chose unity over division. We chose a better Arizona, and we chose democracy.”

  • “The trend in Arizona is quite clear: Voters have told us this is not a Trump state,” said Barrett Marson, a Republican strategist in Arizona who blames Trump’s influence for tanking his party’s performance. “If there is anything that Donald Trump has accomplished in the last several years, it is turning Arizona from a reliably red state to a purple state. That is his legacy in Arizona.”

  • “These were the most extreme candidates we’ve ever seen,” Loredo said.

  • The results didn’t surprise him, because issues like election denialism may win in the Republican primary, he said, “but that’s not the majority of Arizonans.”

  • “As long as the Republican Party remains hijacked by these really extreme folks, nothing is going to change,” Loredo said. “Democrats are going to win more and more and more.”

  • During the Democratic primary, Fontes’ slogan, “Protect Democracy,” was plastered on his website and printed on his signs. But when he kicked off his general election campaign, his staff made a subtle rhetorical shift: He was now running to “Protect the Republic.”

  • Fontes acknowledged the change in diction was meant to appeal to voters on the right, where some argue that the United States is a republic, not a democracy, and they treat the latter like a dirty word.

  • “I don’t want to be nice, I want to win,” Fontes said of the strategy. “And if sharing the exact same message using slightly different language that is more politically acceptable to a certain group is going to get it for me, I’m not proud enough or pure enough to say that I’m going to insist on just one way of doing it.”

  • It’s unclear how many Republicans wound up voting for him, but as of Tuesday, Fontes had received more than 1.3 million votes, more than any other Democrat but Kelly.

  • In the attorney general race, Democrat Kris Mayes, who was a registered Republican until 2019, cast her contest as one of high stakes and national import. At an election night celebration, she told a crowd of supporters that Republicans would “dismantle our democracy.” A week later, she held a slight lead in the race, but it remained too close to call.

  • Her opponent, 31-year-old first-time candidate Hamadeh, made baseless allegations of election malfeasance one of his campaign’s central issues. He has repeatedly promised to pursue criminal charges against “those who worked to rob President Trump in the rigged 2020 election.” In one social media post, he vowed “a day of reckoning” and added an image of handcuffs. With votes still being counted, Hamadeh urged supporters to “FIGHT LIKE HELL,” a Trump rallying cry in 2020.

  • The next day, at Hobbs’ victory party inside a small, Latina-owned business in downtown Phoenix, the mood — and the outlook on the country’s future — was decidedly different.

  • Gov. Doug Ducey (R) had just called to congratulate her, beginning an orderly transition of power. When Hobbs took the mic, she faced the same throng of television cameras that spent much of the past year following Lake, and she warned that attacks on democracy would continue.

  • “It is on all of us to continue to defend it,” she said.

  • Michele Newcomb, a 64-year-old Phoenix resident, watched from the crowd. She had been dismayed by her state’s open grapple with basic democratic traditions, and the unexpected win gave her hope.

  • “I support democracy,” she said, tears in her eyes.