Democrats Blow Arizona Opportunity

The State Senator race for Arizona Legislative District 15 was won by the Republicans on August 4, 2020. The general election November 3 will have no effect on the outcome. The same is true for three other Arizona districts.

The Democratic Party ignored Arizona LD15, handing an uncontested victory to a hard line right wing Republican professional politician.

No candidate from any other party came forward.

LD15 Demographics

I’ve resided in this district for over twenty years. It’s a great place to live. There’s a nice mix of dirt roads and pavement and all the things that go along with both.

227,909 people live in 87,335 households.

The median income is the fourth highest within the state districts. The population is overwhelmingly white at 76.3%, mostly US born and usually employed in white collar jobs. Over half the people 25 and older are college educated.

Republican Stronghold

History of elected officials in District 15Since redistricting, the Republicans have owned LD 15. In fact, a group of THREE Republicans have owned the district. John Allen, Nancy Barto, and Heather Carter have rotated jobs since 2013.

After hitting the term limit in the Senate, Barto switched over for a term as a Representative in the House. Heather Carter was then elected to the Senate.

Barto decided to run for the Senate again this year since her term limit clock was reset by a stint in the House. She had full support from the Republican Party against the Republican incumbent Carter.

Barto won the primary by 3.2% (956 votes).

Barto was backed financially by the usual ultra conservative people and groups, Carter had the backing of health care groups.

RINO (Republican in Name Only) Accusations

This blast from a far right web site says it all about how the the hard line Kelli Ward Republicans in Arizona campaigned against incumbent Heather Carter:

State Senator Heather Carter – Without exception, Heather Carter is the most liberal and belligerent Republican in the entire Legislature, in spite of her representing a rock-solid conservative district.

Jeers to Carter for being the ultimate RINO in the State Legislature.

Strong words. Why?

Medical and Victim’s Rights Programs are RINO

Much of the RINO venom aimed at Carter stems from her strong positions on expanding Medicare and Kids Care programs.

The last straw for the right wing Republicans came in May 2019 when Carter joined fellow Republican Senator Paul Boyer in stalling the passage of a nearly $12B budget. Without those two votes, the budget was stalled.

The bill in question was a victim’s rights bill written to extend the period of time for a victim to file a lawsuit against a sexual predator or an organization from two years after the victim’s 18th birthday until the age of 30. The hard line Republicans didn’t want this to pass.

Boyer and Carter withheld their votes to force consideration of the bill.

It worked, and A.R.S. § 12-514 was signed into law, extending the protections for sexually abused children.

So, feeling strongly enough about those extended protections is what tatooed the RINO label on Carter triggering the Kelli Ward Arizona GOP.

Only 3.2% more people voting in the Republican primary disagreed with Carter’s positions.

Fun With Math!

There are 153,507 active voters in LD15. The party splits are below.

64,297 39,576 1,498 48,136

There’s no way of knowing how many people registered as Independents requested a Republican ballot to participate in the Republican primary. I know at least two people did. For this exercise, let’s leave that factor unresolved and assume only Republicans voted.

Of those 64,297 people, 29,230 decided to vote in the primary. Of those, nearly half voted for Carter despite her support of socially progressive programs like medical coverage for kids and adults and victim’s rights. Let’s round off the Carter total to 14,000 and the Barto total to 15,000.

Let’s assume every registered Republican shows up to vote in November.

Some of those 14,000 Carter people remember what it was like when Nancy Barto represented the district.

What percentage of those 14,000 would never vote for Barto? Can we say twenty percent for 2,800?

That leaves Barto with 61,497 votes, a formidable number.

Let’s also assume the Democrats are lazy and only 30,000 vote in the presidential year election. With Barto’s far right stance on everything, it’s very unlikely she would get any votes from a registered Democrat in THIS district. Let’s assume the fictional Democratic Party candidate, let’s call her Shirley, gets all 30,000 of those votes.

Barto 61,497, Shirley 30,000 – a big win for Barto.

The answer always lies in the court of the Independents. For this exercise, let’s ignore the Libertarians becausee they hate when you do that.

How Would Independents Vote?

The two registered Independents in this house would vote against Nancy Barto regardless of the opposing candidate. In THIS case, however, Heather Carter rises head and shoulders over our former state Senator and she would get our vote regardless.

Would there be enough of a differential in the other 48,134 Independent voter pool to make up the “guaranteed vote” Barto will receive?

It’s unlikely, yet not impossible, Shirley would gather 30,000 or so of those votes.

It’s certain a decent percentage of those people would vote for a Democratic Party candidate. So, it’s ludicrous the party wouldn’t ensure they had that chance.

The worst result would be some accurate, instructive voter data for a cheap price.

A strong Democratic Party candidate, Hiral Tipirneni, has mounted a strong and well funded challenge to the Republican incumbent David Schweikert in this area. It’s enough of a challenge to the House Ethics Committee sanctioned Schweikert that the Cook Political report rates AZ06 a “toss up”.

The Republican candidate (Martha McSally) for Senate lost in 2018 and is running behind the Democratic Party candidate (Mark Kelly) right now.

It’s ludicrous to not ante up to roll the dice with a State Senate candidate in this district.

Will there be a “blue wave” to ride? Nobody knows what will happen, although there appears to be real momentum in Arizona toward voting out hard line Republicans.

Democratic Party Missed a Shot

The argument for the Democratic Party to field a candidate in LD15 instead of simply ignoring what they must consider an “ultra conservative” district isn’t hard to make. Conventional political wisdom is likely the root cause for the lack of attention.

The hubris of the Democratic Party in 2016 should have taught lessons that should be hard coded in any sentient Democrat with a shred of responsibility for candidate recruiting.

It’s nerve wracking to watch the same mistakes floating by the window as the most important election cycle in my memory draws to a close.

Be best, Democratic Party bigwigs. Do the work.