After a Democratic surge in the August 28 primary and subsequent rallies to unite and energize party activists, Maricopa County Democratic Party Chairperson Steven Slugocki took time to give his impressions about the primary results and the campaign ahead to turn Arizona blue.
1) Were you and the Maricopa County Democrats happy with the turnout on the primaries on August 28? Please explain.
“Very happy! 100,000 more Dems voted in this primary than the 2016 election, we shattered the turnout record! It was great to see everyone out making calls and knocking doors encouraging people to vote. Enthusiasm for voting is on our side and we are going to ride this all the way to the general election.”
2) What are at least two steps are you taking in coordination with the LD offices and the ADLCC to increase turnout for November 6?
“We are identifying targets of who we need to get out to vote. We are working very closely with our candidates and districts to make sure they have all they need to be able to maximize their efforts. We are getting constant calls and emails from people who have never been involved before who want to help out, so we send them to their closest office.”
3) What are at least two steps you and the organization taking to help the candidates raise funds?
“It is always tough to raise money at this time, but donors want to invest in candidates who they believe in or who inspire them. So we try to help candidates set up fun events where they can discuss their campaign plans. For “clean” candidates we try to make sure they are using their limited resources as efficiently as possible.”
4) Are the top three issues from the primaries still the same for the general? How you are recommending candidates frame the message in contrast to the Republicans?
“Education is still the number one issue. As long as the Republicans continue to slash and burn education funding in our state, it will be an issue. You can see it in every district in this state, people want better schools, better funding for classes and an increase in teacher pay. The Red for Ed movement is very much alive and well. We are trying to show how our candidates have different priorities for schools, we want to fund public schools and not vouchers.”
5) How you will use the Arizona Supreme Court Decisions against the Invest in Ed and Outlaw Dirty Money Ballot Initiatives to increase turnout?
“Ducey’s Supreme Court picks kicking off these initiatives were really awful. Thousands of people worked extremely hard on these and the voters should have been able to decide. People are rightfully angry that their voices on these won’t be heard, so they are going to put that energy into candidates and electing people who will support the ideals of invest in ed. All that did was fire up the educators in our state even more so than before.”
6) Are there races in the county that you feel have the best chance of turning blue. Are there any races that have you worried?
“I am more confident than ever before that we can run very hard races in every single district, from Sun City to Gilbert. We have opportunities this year that we have never had before; it is up to us to win. We have dedicated, hardworking candidates in every district and we will leave no vote, no community behind and take no votes for granted. I think we are going to be in for multiple surprises in November. The people of Arizona are ready for a change. Even in the reddest of red, and bluest of blue districts, we all have a part to play.”
7) Are there any candidates you would like to single out for praise?
“Every candidate deserves our appreciation and respect. They inspire me daily. Seriously, they put their lives on hold for months trying to make Arizona a better place to live. It is amazing.”
“While I am proud of every candidate, I am especially proud of our first-time candidates, most of which are educators who became involved wanting to make a difference in their classroom.
- Christine Marsh for Senate in LD28
- Eric Kurland in LD23
- The “Moms ready to lead” team Jennifer Samuels, Julie Gunnigle and Kristin Dybvig-Pawelko in LD 15
- Joe Bisaccia in LD12. “I really enjoy Joe’s Instagram stories of him knocking doors when it is 110 degrees.”
8) Some Republicans call the Democrats ideas out of touch, weak, and Socialistic.
“It is the same tired, overused line that the Republicans always use, it is just a scare tactic. I would encourage Dems to run on our values. When we run on our values, we can and will win.”
9) There are some Republicans who will not debate their Democratic opponents. I know it has happened to Sean Bowie and Eric Kurland. Why are some Republicans are afraid to debate Democrats and face their constituents?
“It is really unfortunate. The voters deserve to hear from a person who wants to represent them, that is not something unreasonable. I think some Republicans want to just avoid answering questions in a public setting because they know that voters are demanding change and our candidates have the right message. I would encourage everyone to have at least one public debate.”
10) What else would you like to convey?
“We have an incredible, historic opportunity this year. Now is the time. We have marched, we have protested, we have signed petitions, we have been angry and disappointed since the last election. Now is our time to take back our state. I am all in, I am going to do everything I can, and I hope everyone will do the same. Don’t wake up on November 7th wishing you had done more; leave it all out there. Get involved, knock doors, make calls, send texts, write postcards, donate, host an event, everyone has a role to play in this election. Together we are going to turn Arizona blue”
11) Does the Blue Wave still go through Maricopa County? Please explain.
“Absolutely it does. As 64% of the statewide vote, we must lead the way. We have hundreds of thousands of voters we need to turn out; we know that the balance of the state legislature depends on what happens here. Our statewide candidates are counting on us; we must do more than ever before. We have a very big job ahead of us that we have been preparing the last year and a half for. We are ready to lead the blue wave.”
Chairperson Slugocki is right that “now is our time to take back our state.” With a record number of candidates (and record numbers of women and nonwhite candidates), this is a focal point in our state’s history. Are you satisfied with being at the bottom in funding our schools but having higher numbers in child poverty and homelessness? Are you satisfied with being the state in the southwest region that is close to or at the bottom in most social and economic justice indicators? Do you want your state legislators to serve you and not Dark Money Interests? Do you want to make Arizona the solar power generator of the country? If you answered no, no, yes, and yes to those questions, follow Chairperson Slugocki’s advice and do all that you can and help Maricopa County lead the way in making Arizona blue.