|Trump and anti-immigrant extremist Arpaio.|
One of the big questions for 2018 is whether or not Hispanics and Millennials will turn out in force at the polls come November. If they do, the 2018 midterms and other elections could be brutal for Republicans. Hopefully, Democrats across the country are replicating the ground game and get out the vote effort Virginia Democrats under Ralph Northam mounted in 2017. One state that many pundits and party operatives are watching is Arizona, which among other things, has an open U.S.Senate seat. Two of the would be GOP nominees are trying to out-Trump Der Trumpenführer when it comes to Hispanic bashing. The other is swinging to the hard right to court the racist GOP base. With luck, this primary will motivate Hispanics and Millennials to seek revenge in the November general election. A piece in The Guardian looks at the dynamics in play in Arizona. Here are excerpts:
With its growing population of young Hispanic voters, Arizona has long seemed a tempting prize for Democrats. Year after year, electoral success has eluded them. As the 2018 midterms approach, with Arizona one of the biggest political battlegrounds, Democrats are indefatigably optimistic.Issues that animate liberals across the country – immigration, healthcare, education – are raging in Arizona. Last month, public school teachers walked out of their classrooms – and won salary increases and more funding for schools. The state is also at the center of the roiling debate over illegal immigration and border enforcement. It is home to Hispanics, 31% of the population, and suburban white voters who strongly disagree with Trump’s hardline politics.
Republicans outnumber Democrats in the state and have nearly twice as many precinct committee officials. But Democrats say their numbers have jumped since 2016 and the combined total of unaffiliated and third-party voters is greater than those for either party. Accordingly, the state Democratic party has launched a 15-county strategy to reach new voters across the states and especially independents.
Democrats say they are optimistic they can pick up at least one, possibly two congressional seats. They are also excited about the possibility of winning control of the state senate and insist they have a chance of unseating the Republican governor, Doug Ducey. The biggest prize of all is an open Senate seat that could determine control of the chamber. Republicans, of course, push back.
Chuck Coughlin, a veteran Republican strategist, was less emphatic. Though he said too many Democrats were running as progressives in a state that is still conservative and waved off the chance of a defeat for Ducey, who negotiated the pay rise for teachers, he said the Senate seat, held by a conservative Republican since 1995, “clearly leans blue”.
Immigration has already emerged as a defining issue of the battle for Arizona’s seat. The three Republican candidates have largely embraced Trump’s agenda – policies several party strategists quietly worry are too far right for the general election.
The Republican primary is a three-way contest between US congresswoman Martha McSally, a decorated air force veteran and party favorite; Kelli Ward, a former state senator and far-right conservative; and Arpaio, whom Trump pardoned after he was convicted of contempt of court for refusing to stop racially profiling Hispanics.
Democrats hope a nasty Republican primary will open the door to a first Democratic senator in a generation. US congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, a “Blue Dog” centrist and the presumptive nominee, has positioned herself as an “independent voice” and consensus builder, willing to work across the aisle. While the Republicans vie to be seen as the most conservative, Coughlin said, Sinema is honing a positive, general-election message, in English and Spanish.
McCain, the six-term Arizona senator who is fighting brain cancer at his ranch in Sedona, warns that Republicans are “on the wrong side” of the immigration debate and risk losing Latino voters for a generation.
“Most Arizona high school seniors are Hispanic,” McCain writes. “Do you think most of them would consider voting for the party that pulled their friends out of school, took them away from their teams and clubs and neighborhoods and put them on buses to Mexico?”
Joseph Garcia, director of the Morrison Institute Latino Public Policy Center at Arizona State University, said Latinos made up more than a fifth of the Arizona electorate in 2016 election but their influence was limited by low voter turnout.
A study he worked on, however, found that by 2030 Arizona could become a “blue, progressive state”, in large part because of the Latino vote.
“The die is cast as far as changing demographics [go],” Garcia said. “It’s not hard to predict the future when you have the numbers.”