Three incumbent Democratic state senators appear to be on their way out, based on unofficial and preliminary results on Tuesday night, dramatically altering the political landscape at the capitol.
If they failed to mount a late comeback, the defeat of Assistant Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios in District 23, Sen. Amanda Aguirre in District, and Sen. Manny Alvarez in District 25 paves the way for Republicans to gain a veto-proof majority in the Senate.
There are currently 18 Republicans in the Senate. Victories in the three districts would push their number to 21, one vote more than needed to enact legislation that needs a two-thirds vote.
So far, Rios is losing to Steve Smith, Aguirre to Tea Party candidate Don Shooter and Alvarez to former legislator Gail Griffin.
“It’s a very difficult night for Democrats,” groaned Sen. Paula Aboud, a Democrat from Tucson. “It’s going to be really a tough year.”
Rios’ exit would have an immediate impact on the Democratic caucus.
Rios was in line to succeed as the minority leader next year. Democrats would need to scramble to select someone to take her place if she loses.
Senate Democrats are expected to meet tomorrow to choose their next set of leaders.
But a commanding control of the Capitol machinery poses both an opportunity and a risk for Republicans.
“If we end up with that big of a margin in the House also, then it definitely would be on to us to balance the budget,” said Sen. Ron Gould, a conservative Republican from Lake Havasu.
- Luige del Puerto