Now it can be said: Democrats in Pima County clobbered Republicans in the election. It was a historic win for education, diversity, and criminal justice. To wit:
- Democrats expanded their majority on the Board of Supervisors to 4 to 1.
- Public education won up and down the ballot.
- Democrats won 5 out of 6 Pima countywide elected offices.
- There was a massive Democratic turnout — 80% of Democrats voted across Pima County, and in some precincts 95%.
- Voters elected the most diverse group of candidates in Pima County history to fill countywide offices — exemplified top vote-getter Gabriella Cázares-Kelly for County Recorder, who won with 59% of the vote. She follows retiring Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez, who was the first Latino female elected to Pima Countywide office.
- 63% of Latinos voted for Biden/Harris, also electing many Democratic Latinos to office.
- Democrats mounted an immense campaign with hundreds of volunteers making thousands of phone calls, sending emails and texts, dropping off literature, and posting on social media. In LD9 — Arizona’s bluest legislative district — dozens of volunteers made 7,700 calls to voters, with a 15% rate of actually speaking to voters. Democrats coordinated well with community groups including organized labor and the Arizona Ground Game. Democrats also benefited from strong support from Indivisible Arizona, Swing Left, Mi Familia Vota, Chispa AZ, and Lucha.
- All 3 Tucson-area Democratic US representatives were re-elected Ann Kirkpatrick (CD2), Raúl Grijalva (CD3), and Tom O’Halleran (CD1).
- Arizona has two Democratic US Senators — for the first time since 1953!
- The war on drugs, which causes mass incarceration, has ended in Pima County, thanks to the election of Laura Conover as County Attorney.
- Arizona went blue for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — for the first time since 1996! — delivering the state’s 11 electoral votes.
- For the time being, we are done with two-time loser Martha McSally. She may run again, so that we can vote her down a third time.
Democrats ran candidates in every office. Steve Diamond, the Democratic candidate for County Supervisor in Republican District 4, was the first Democrat to run in the district in 24 years. Though he garnered only 45% of the vote, his candidacy motivated 5,000 to 10,000 Democrats to come to the polls and he was supported by labor voters. He will be a force to deal with in future elections.
- The polls were wrong, wrong, wrong. I saw this would happen back in July – Why I Don’t Trust the Polls — and Neither Should You. On the day before the election, the vaunted New York Times/Siena College poll predicted Biden would carry Arizona by 6 points — but in reality, he won by 3/10 of one percent. The polls were bogus in predicting Biden would win Florida by 3 points — where he lost by 3 points. The polls said Biden would win Pennsylvania by 6 points — but he won by 7/10 of a percentage point.
Public education won up and down the ballot.
In an emphatic rejection of the anti-public-education Republican Legislature, voters passed initiatives and elected candidates to benefit public schools. On the macro level, Prop. 208 passed, and the Invest In Ed measure will contribute $940 million annually for 1.1 million kids in Arizona public schools. Prop 207 (the weed initiative) will contribute $300 million in new revenue annually, including $100 million per year for our community colleges.
On the micro level, Catherine Ripley was overwhelmingly elected to the Pima County Community College (PCC) Board — ousting a Republican who wanted to privatize the school. Prop. 481 passed with 69% of the vote, enabling the PCC to adjust its expenditure limits. A Teacher of The Year, Christine Porter Marsh, was elected in LD28 (Phoenix). A Democrat, she has been a high school English teacher for 28 years.
Criminal justice returns to Pima County
Laura Conover, a progressive defense attorney, said she will to end cash bail by instructing prosecutors at initial court hearings for non-violent offenders. She will create a fraud unit that, for the first time in 20 years, will pursue scammers and robocallers. Most importantly, she will not prosecute kids caught in the park with a joint in their pocket. The war on drugs is over.
It’s an end to the policies of turncoat Democrat Barbara Lawall, who wasted one-third of the prosecutor’s budget to persecute low-level non-violent drug offenders on felony charges. In a huge betrayal, she also endorsed the Republican candidate for sheriff (who lost). Good riddance.
OK, the Republicans held on to the Legislature, but they are running scared. In Pima County, all Democrats were elected in LD9 — Pam Powers Hannley, Randy Friese, and Victoria Steele. The same happened in LD10, with the election of Democrats Kirsten Engel, Domingo DeGrazia, and Stephanie Stahl Hamilton.
LD11 is another story, with right-wing militia member Mark Finchem and QAnon supporter Vince Leach winning re-election. The district was originally drawn to be a safe GOP district, where Republicans have an 11% registration advantage. Despite that, Democrat Joanna Mendoza got 45% of the vote and raised $204 million in her run for state Senate. Her colleague, Democratic House candidate Dr. Felipe Perez, got 31% of the vote. LD11 will be redrawn by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, but the groundwork has been laid in Marana and Oro Valley, which have vibrant Democratic clubs.
Democrat Rex Scott pulled off a historic win in traditionally Republican Supervisor District 1, winning by just 730 votes. But as they say in sports, winning by an inch is as good as winning by a mile. He replaces tea-party Republican incumbent Ally Miller and her hand-picked candidate Steve Spain. Scott, a longtime school principal, is the first Democrat to win in District 1 since 1972!
What’s next in 2022
Gov. Doug Ducey has hit term limits and will be gone in 2022, so he can pursue his Koch-inspired fantasy of running for US President. Gov. Ducey is now the most unpopular governor in America. Maybe he’ll just go back to selling ice cream.
Meanwhile, Republicans are lining up to run for Governor, including highly-unpopular Attorney General Mark Brnovich. He has a failed career of pursuing losing lawsuits against the Arizona Board of Regents, Obamacare, DACA Dreamers and more.
Wacky Kelli Ward, the Chair of Arizona Republican Party, will undoubtedly feel the need to run — and likely lose, as she did in her race for US Senator in 2016 and 2018.
And you read it here first — Martha McSally will likely run for Governor. Arizonans were repulsed by her nasty debate performance with winner Mark Kelly. To run again, she will have to come up with new insults to call people and dodge questions.
Another possible GOP candidate is Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee. She is a former state Senator and House member who is against free and legal abortion, is endorsed by the NRA, and is a shill for Koch-controlled Americans for Prosperity and the right-wing Goldwater Institute.
Now the good news: Katie Hobbs, the Secretary of State, will likely run for governor. A Democrat, she has 2 years of experience in the state House for LD15, and 6 years in the state Senate in LD24. In the election, she became an election news star, defending the ballot counting on ABC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC.
In other good news, January Contreras, will likely run again for Attorney General. In 2018 she lost by only 3.4% in the race against Brnovich.
So stop fretting and celebrate, Democrats. As Joshua Polachek, the Executive Director of the Pima County Democratic Party said, “We crushed it!“