A state that’s as tough on immigrants as its Republican senators are on President Trump. Can Kyrsten Sinema become the first Democrat to win statewide since Janet Napolitano quit?
By Hank Stephenson and Jim Nintzel | POLITICO
Arizona is known for its harsh immigration laws and a former governor who once wagged her finger in the face of the president of the United States.
But it’s also a state that recalled the state senator who wrote those immigration laws and ousted the sheriff who zealously enforced them.
And that finger-wagging Republican governor, Jan Brewer, later strong-armed Republican lawmakers into taking advantage of that same president’s Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid. She also successfully led voters to increase sales taxes, temporarily, for education.
This is a young state, the last one in the lower 48 to join the Union, yet it’s been increasingly influential in Republican politics, delivering two presidential nominees since 1964. Arizona was the host of the first major rally for candidate Donald Trump, but it’s also the home of President Trump’s most vocal Republican critics in the U.S. Senate. Our state is more complicated than its unforgivingly conservative reputation (we’ve been called, as you might have heard, “the meth lab of American democracy”), but the best resource to win here is still an R after your name.
In 2002, Arizona narrowly elected Democrat Janet Napolitano as governor, then resoundingly reelected her in 2006. When she resigned to become President Barack Obama’s secretary of Homeland Security in early 2009, Democrats quickly lost all relevance in the state. Brewer inherited the governor’s office amid the Great Recession, and anti-immigrant sentiment soared. Democrats haven’t won a statewide election here since.
But in November, the two Arizona Democrats at the top of the statewide ticket are trying break their party’s 10-year slump. And one of them—Kyrsten Sinema, the U.S. Senate candidate—might even do it.