After 32 years as a red state, Arizona went blue in 1996. One of the main reasons was that Hispanics and Native Americans decided to participate because they were motivated by the notion that a similar bill like Prop. 187 in California could be presented in Arizona by the Legislature and signed by the governor. Many Hispanic and Indigenous Americans had never voted before, but the possibility of having a law that would allow racial profiling motivated them to vote.
When the Legislature voted on similar measures in 2006 and 2008, Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed them – exactly as many had predicted, SB1070, introduced by extreme-right Republicans in 2010, was passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed into law by Republican Governor Jan Brewer.
Two years later at a national level, President Obama announced a policy called “The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) on June 15, 2012. Shortly after taking office in 2016, the Trump administration announced a plan to phase out DACA, triggering multiple lawsuits and challenges. Because of this, many Hispanics around the country took action in response to this bigotry and organized themselves. Many them volunteered, organized, and canvassed for Kyrsten Sinema’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2018. Grassroots action and donations from various organizations, people and unions showed up to help get her elected. They hoped she would speak up for them in the U.S. Senate and represent their interests. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, they were wrong.
Remembering recent historical events like these brings us to the 2022 gubernatorial race in Arizona. Many individuals, groups, organizations, and especially the Arizona Democratic Party ignore egregious racism in their own ranks. There are three gubernatorial candidates, but two of them are front runners. On the one hand you have Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who has controversy around her that is ignored by Democrats and progressives.
What does the party want to talk about related to Hobbs? The fact that she is secretary of state? A Democrat? A woman? The problem to just answering these questions is that they are leaving out the most important part of her bio, which is related to the case of Talonya Adams, “A former Black Democratic state legislative (employee) … fired for complaining that she was paid less than her white and male colleagues in the Arizona Senate. The verdict was Talonya Adams’ second courtroom victory over the Senate regarding her discrimination claims. Adams was fired in 2015 while serving under Katie Hobbs, who was the Senate minority leader at the time.”
Are party leaders turning a blind eye, because deep inside they are also racist? I hope not, but they should focus on two things that Marco Lopez has already accomplished as a small business owner. With Skybridge project he is on track to create over 15,000 jobs in Arizona. Marco is working tirelessly to provide 1 million low-income families with high-speed internet. He is former mayor of Nogales, former director of the Arizona Department of Commerce with Governor Napolitano and national security appointee for President Obama.
The bottom line: if Hispanic voters in Arizona are not motivated during the primary, they will not participate in the general election. Any potential legislative proposals to protect women’s reproductive freedom, human, and civil liberties will be gone for years, and in jeopardy possibly the remainder of the decade.
We can no longer play it safe and wait until after the primary. That is a feeble excuse given the current circumstances we face as a state with a potential racist taking the top leadership position in Arizona. Discrimination against Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, LGBTQIA+, women, or any other marginalized group should never be tolerated.
If Hispanic-led organizations and leaders do not step up, they are losing the opportunity to have a governor who can motivate Hispanics around the country before the 2024 presidential election. On the other hand, the Democratic Party gambles with Sen. Mark Kelly’s re-election bid.
This is why leaders and organizations should be doing everything possible to break the proverbial glass ceiling and work to get Marco Lopez elected as the next governor of Arizona. Wake up before it is too late.
Enrique Davis-Mazlum Is a political analyst on Mexican and U.S. elections and the author of the book “Grassroots: The Sleeping Giant.”