For the last two legislative sessions in the Arizona State Capitol, Republicans have enjoyed razor-thin majorities of 16 to 14 in the Senate and 31 to 29 in the State House.
With those narrow majorities, did they team up with Democrats to find solutions to move the state forward and lift people up?
On some issues, compromises to increase public school funding and address the water supply situation were reached but in other areas like stifling democracy, restricting reproductive and LGBTQ freedom, and giving the wealthiest hidden tax cuts disguised as private school voucher scholarships, the MAGA, Christian Conservative, and Plutocratic Three Headed Hydra of the Former Party of Lincoln has shown its true nature.
That is why Democratic incumbents in the State Legislature and candidates looking to join the club in 2024 are very enthusiastic about their prospects in next year’s elections.
The Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (ADLCC) was formed by leaders like current Governor Katie Hobbs and Dr. Eric Meyer to create an organization that would help improve Democratic numbers in the House and Senate.
With stellar candidates, a great outreach organization, Arizona becoming bluer, and a State Republican party increasingly out of touch with reality, the ADLCC has helped achieve Democratic increases in both legislative chambers, gaining strength, particularly in parts of Maricopa County like Chandler, Central Mesa, Ahwatukee, and North Phoenix/Scottsdale.
Leaders at the ADLCC are confident that 2024 will be the year Democrats finally take over both chambers of the State Legislature.
Running on issues of fairness, economic opportunity, water, protecting freedom, and education, candidates will work every day reaching out to voters to make their case on why the people should select them at the polls in November 2024.
ADLCC Chairperson and State Representative Jennifer Longdon along with Communications Director Ashton Adams graciously took the time to answer questions about the 2024 election cycle.
The questions and their responses are below.
- What are the shape and terrain look like in the battleground districts for the 2024 elections?
Representative Longdon: “If I have to give it to you in a single word, it is hopeful, exciting, or confident.”
Miss Adams: “Everyone here at the ALDCC staff, all the candidates we have on board so far, we’re ready. We’re excited to get started. We’re a little less than 500 days away from the election and every single day, we’re working on something new or meeting another candidate, or doing something out in the field so even though we have a little less than 500 days, we’re going to use them all. We’re really excited.”
2) What can you tell us about the status of the candidate recruitment process so far this cycle?
Representative Longdon: “I think that our recruitment process is ongoing and I’m really excited about the folks that we’ve recruited so far. We have some great candidates. Some names you know. Judy Schwiebert for example is technically a new candidate moving from the House to the Senate, but she is well-established. Morgan Abraham is an experienced legislator who didn’t serve this term mostly because of redistricting and how that cut things up. It is going to take one of those seats and I have a number of candidates that are really going to put us in contention for control of the House and the Senate. I couldn’t be more hopeful.”
Miss Adams: “In addition to those two amazing candidates, a lot of our incumbents are excited to run again and now, this year, more than ever, we have the best chance to gain the majority. All of them couldn’t be more excited about their campaigns. The two that come to mind right now are Senator Christine Marsh and Representative Laura Terech. They are some of my favorite candidates because of the competitive races they run but also because the enthusiasm on the ground for them is incredible. The people in their district are very involved and I think they are excellent candidates.”
Representative Longdon: “We’ve got great incumbents in addition to Terech and Marsh. We’ve got Burch and Blattman and Austin and Seaman. We can keep going from there. We’ve got other great folks already in the legislature like Sandoval and Fernandez. Also, the former swing district is now LD 12 with Epstein, Contreras, and Travers. We can keep going but our incumbents who are running for reelection in their current seats are solid. The folks who are running for new seats are amazing as well.
Do you not see Representative Pawlik’s decision not to run in 2024 as complicating the math needed to get a majority in the State House?
Representative Longdon: “Jen Pawlik is one of my dearest friends in the legislature. She and I were elected at the same time. We were part of the Jen caucus (with former Representative Jennifer Jermaine.) Jen has been an amazing legislator. She is the one I go to for policy advice and guidance when I need it. She served well and I fully respect her decision not to run…She has shown us the path…While I always wish I was going to have the opportunity to serve with great people that I’ve already served with, we’re going to be fine. Jen will be missed but we’re going to be fine.”
Miss Adams: “I think Representative Pawlik is an amazing representative but also a stellar candidate that all the battleground candidates looked to for advice for metrics. She was one of the best door-knockers any candidate has ever been. Her leaving does not complicate the math moving forward because we know that there will be another excellent candidate in that district that really follows the path that Jennifer Pawlik has already laid the ground for.
3) What are three to five issues the candidates will be running on in unison this cycle? Please explain.
Miss Adams: “One of the issues that is going to be extremely important for our candidates to have a solid message moving forward is education. Right now, what’s happening with education is really inspiring voters to be involved whether the voucher issue or the teacher shortage problem. A lot of our candidates happen to be teachers so this is something they can speak on really well.”
“In the past year, water has really become a top topic for people in the field when we’re going out to talk to voters. People are very concerned about water and the future here in Arizona. This is something our candidates can speak to very well and oftentimes address voters’ concerns right off the bat.”
“The last issues of reproductive freedom and abortion will, I believe, remain a top issue as we head into 2024. A lot of people think that because we will be two years away from the Dobbs Decision that abortion may become less of an issue but I think it will become more of an issue because it’s moving forward closer to home. We’re seeing lots and lots of bills to restrict reproductive freedom passing in the House and Senate. That means it’s affecting our communities right here.”
Representative Longdon: “One other issue that can be thrown with the others are housing and homelessness. That is a huge concern for voters in Arizona.”
“Another important issue is fairness in our taxing structure. The flat tax that pancaked our taxing structure was a tax giveaway for those highest tax brackets and the average Arizonan got no benefit from that. However, what we’ve done is we’ve excused our wealthiest Arizonans from paying their fair share for issues like education, water, public safety, and homelessness.”
On private school vouchers being a disguised tax cut
Representative Longdon: “That all goes together. Instead of having a couple of billion dollars to direct as Arizonans need it directed every year, we’re going to be in a position where we’re going to be dipping into the rainy day fund in a couple of years because between pancaking our tax code brackets and this bonanza giveaway where folks who are already sending their kids to private schools can now take money from public schools in order to pay for it. We’re going to see once again, a stark difference between the haves and the ones that work harder for what they have.”
Miss Adams: “All I’ll say is there is a lot of voter enthusiasm about this issue. I hear about it at the doors when we talk to voters.”
Representative Longdon: “Voters are looking for fairness. These are folks that work hard, do their part, pay their taxes, mow their lawn, and participate in P.T.A. They want a fair shake. More and more, folks feel the game is stacked against them. It goes to show the stark difference between the Democrats and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Democrats are worried about the bread-and-butter issues that affect you at your breakfast table, in your exam room, in your child’s classroom, and in your grocery store line. Our colleagues across the aisle have gotten very caught up in these culture war issues, many of which are not real issues: election denial, critical race theory, and denying the racial equality and human/ civil rights of Arizonans overall, especially our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, including our transgender friends. They’re going to run on this ticket that says “We’re going to take care of the rich. We’re going to disenfranchise further those who are losing their voice in Arizona.” We (the Democrats) are here to fight against that and protect and elevate all of the folks they would ignore and hurt.”
4) What strategies will you be using to get the turnout message to voters in 2024? Please explain.
Miss Adams: “Like any campaign, there are many approaches that you have to take to reach voters, but I would have to say that the bread and butter of the ADLCC and the reason we have been so successful in picking up seats in the most competitive districts across this state is that we have rerun extremely successful field programs. We know how to reach people where they are and we send folks to their door, sometimes many times. Sometimes, safely, in 100-plus-degree weather. We talk to the voters about the issues that matter; fairness, what matters to them and their families. We’re talking to them not a week before the election but six, seven, eight months before the election on a routine basis. We’re not just talking to Democrats. We’re talking to Independents. We’re talking to Moderate Republicans because we know that these races are won and lost in the margins, sometimes by just a couple of hundred votes. We can’t take any vote for granted.”
Representative Longdon “We’re not going to just start talking to these voters. We’ve never stopped. Canvassing in LD 13, for example, resumed after taking November and December off. In January, they started canvassing again. It was the same in LD Nine, LD Four, and LD 16. I can keep going. We don’t forget who elects us. We continue to talk to those folks. We don’t just show up a few weeks before ballots drop to remind folks to stick with the team.”
Miss Adams: “I think voters really remember us. One of my old colleague’s mother received a doorknock from Senator Marsh. You don’t get that from every candidate. Those are the stories that people really remember. That person will come back every year to vote for Senator Marsh because they know that they are going to receive a door knock or even a phone call sometimes from these candidates directly which is something we’re really proud of here.”