Democrats celebrate diverse turn out, strong support in Arizona

'When you turn Maricopa County blue, you turn Arizona blue.' Democrats celebrate after Joe Biden is announced the next president-elect

The Democratic party spent the week celebrating historic election results as numerous news outlets are projecting Democratic and BIPOC candidates across the state will take office. 

Days after polls closed, CNN, The Associated Press, Fox News and numerous other outlets called the presidential race on Nov. 7 in favor of the Democratic ticket, consisting of former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a rare defeat against incumbent President Donald Trump. 

Earlier in the week, AP called Arizona on Nov. 4 in favor of the Biden-Harris ticket and for U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Mark Kelly. 

With Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) in office, Kelly's election marks the first time Democrats have won control of both of Arizona's Senate seats since 1952. 

This year's election also marks the first time since 1996 the Democratic presidential candidate has won Arizona's 11 electoral college votes. It also makes Harris the first woman, Black person and person of Indian descent to be elected vice president. 

Groundbreaking election for diverse candidates, communities

The 2020 election raked in a record turnout among BIPOC voters across the state, helping to elect Biden and other Democrats into office across Arizona.

According to The Navajo Times, the Indigenous vote pushed Arizona's support for Biden, with the three counties overlapping the Navajo Nation — Apache, Navajo and Coconino — casting 73,954 votes for Biden compared to 2,010 for Trump as of Nov. 5.

Latinx voters and organizers also contributed to the Democrat support this election, with many citing Senate Bill 1070 as the launching point for the Democratic Latinx movement in the state. 

SB 1070 was signed in 2010, and while some provisions of it were struck down by the Supreme Court, the bill allows police officers to request proof of legal residency from a person who has been stopped, arrested or detained and police suspect is in the U.S. unlawfully. 

Criticism of the bill said it allowed police to racially profile and intimidate Arizona's Latinx community.

Kristen Marquez, a freshman studying digital culture, said she hopes policies implemented during the Trump presidency that were detrimental to immigration and the LGBTQ+ community are undone.

"I'm just hoping anything prejudiced put in place by Trump can be reversed," Marquez said. "I hope immigration can be handled way better, but I really feel like it will be a long time before kids aren't being put in cages." 

Karen Hernandez, a field organizer for Our Voice, Our Vote — Arizona, said she considered the election results a "huge victory."

Our Voice, Our Vote is a Black-led organization that advocates for policies and candidates who push equity for BIPOC and underserved communities.

The organization endorsed numerous BIPOC candidates throughout Arizona, including State Rep. Geraldine Peten (D-Goodyear) for reelection, Whitney Walker for Maricopa County supervisor and Berdetta Hodge for the Tempe Union High School District Board.

"To see so much Black representation ... I don't think there's any words I will ever be able to explain that kind of happiness," Hernandez said.

Democratic support locally, moving forward

The Maricopa County Democratic Party celebrated election night virtually and in-person, streaming early results from the Maricopa County Elections Department.

Ecstatic about the results, Chairman Steven Slugocki said voters "turned Maricopa County blue."

"When you turn Maricopa county blue, you turn Arizona blue," Slugocki said during the live stream. 

Before the 2020 election, the county and the state had historically leaned Republican. In 2016, Trump won Maricopa County over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by over 44,000 votes. 

READ MORE: Lawsuits and Sharpies: The Republican response to the election

In the live stream, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said to viewers the purpose of elections are the "American way to have differences of opinion, a diversity of thought."

"We don't just celebrate political victories," Fontes said. "We celebrate in this republic the victories of a democracy that helps keep us a free nation." 

Neha Dubey, a junior studying politics and the economy, said while she is not an American citizen and could not vote, she leaned toward Biden this election.

Dubey said she is glad Biden could pull through, but as a woman of color and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she feels America is far from being fixed. 

"Now more than ever do we need to start pushing organizations and leaders ... who are striving to pass progressive ideas," Dubey said.

Betsy Landin, a sophomore studying finance, said she spent election night watching the results with Our Voice, Our Vote, and while she was nervous watching results trickle in she was eager to see the organization's hard work pay off. 

Landin said it was good to see the support for Proposition 208, referencing Arizona's low performance in K-12 education. 

"I hope education is something that keeps on progressively getting better," Landin said. "(The passage of Proposition 208 is) just one of the milestones." 

Meanwhile, Marquez said she was excited to see Proposition 207 pass and add Arizona to the list of states where recreational marijuana is legal.  

"I think it's important — a lot of money from weed will go towards important stuff like school funding," Marquez said. "To me, there's just no reason for it to not get passed."

Biden and Harris are expected to be sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2021. Dubey said she feels encouraged to take her citizenship test under a Biden administration. 

"I hope America doesn't see a figure like Trump ever again," Dubey said. "At least for now, for just one day, I can be at peace."

Senior reporter Piper Hansen contributed to the reporting of this article.


Reach the reporter at ekgalin1@asu.edu and follow @eringalindo29 on Twitter.

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