The Beauty of the Primaries

Primaries are exciting because we get to really see who our candidates are and how they perform under the pressure of being challenged…. and our candidates have the opportunity to become better because they are challenged. Not just challenged politically, but challenged on a deeper level because they are facing a candidate with many of the same values, from the same party platform.

 

Primaries are intended to give the voters options and to allow voters to determine whom best aligns with their values and expectations. Who represents what they want in a person asking for their priceless vote.

 

We have been under the illusion that Arizona is a prejudiced and conservative state. A ‘red’ state. 

After traveling across Arizona as an advocate for the last 15 years, and as a candidate for the last 14 months, I can report unequivocally that we are a purple state... and prejudice is not the default position for the majority of people. We have a lot of common ground and people are willing to join us on that common ground, if we give them the opportunity.


No one can deny I give people that conversational opportunity.


We look like a ‘red’ state because the Democrats have never run a lot of candidates and many Democrats prefer registering as Republicans to influence the Republican primary because there are no choices on the Democratic side. We usually run a couple at the top of the ticket and few for Congressional and Legislative seats that are in ‘safe’ blue districts. The argument has been that we pool all our resources into races that are ‘important’ or most likely to win rather than ‘waste’ resources in districts most likely to lose.


The Republicans don’t have the majority of seats in Arizona because they win... but because we forfeit.


When we don’t run candidates in almost every seat, every year, no one is hearing from Democrats about our values on the ground and in their neighborhoods. There is only one conversation happening, and it’s not ours. It also limits ground support for statewide and higher office candidates.


When we don’t run candidates that clearly match who we are, articulating our positions and why we have them, we reinforce the tired argument of "I don’t know what Democrats stand for."


That is not the case this year. We have candidates in every Federal and Statewide race as well as every legislative district except one, several with primaries. We also have candidates in the majority of local races, many for the first time. Some of the candidates this year are actually exciting voters with solutions rather than ‘better than the other guy’ platforms.


The level of participation by candidates and voters in Arizona is unprecedented. National politics aside, local movements have energized people to pay attention like never before: The Women’s March, March For Science, Me Too, Black Lives Matter, March For Our Lives, Red For Ed.


But they’re not just going to blindly vote the party line. Rather, they will look deeper for who will make a real difference, focusing on real issues - that’s even more true for Independents and Republicans looking for alternatives.


The only poll for the Democratic US Senate primary included 550 people, calling 70% landlines, leaning toward Sinema... but even in this poll, I came out on top with 18 to 34 years old.


Young eligible voters now outnumber Baby Boomers in Arizona - but young voters won't turn out to vote for anything that doesn’t excite them or demonstrate something other than ’the same as before.”


No one can deny that I reach and excite young voters (regardless of party affiliation) more than any other candidate in Arizona, if for no other reason than I understand and use all social media platforms to their full potential (and I do canvassing at RAVES and other events where young people are). Our campaign is different on so many levels, and young people respond to that.


This is the year we can make a huge difference in both the type of candidates we elect and the number of Democrats and Independents (not to mention Republicans) turning out to vote for our candidates.


But only if we give them something to vote for, something to be excited about. Otherwise, we are suppressing the vote - particularly among young and minority voters who are the biggest cynics of politics because they have witnessed betrayal so many times.


Non-minorities, older generations, and the middle class are in fact experiencing more fear this year and will likely be more motivated to vote as a result… marginalized communities are witnessing the larger society experience what they live with daily. We do them (and us) a disservice by falsely believing fear alone will be their sole motivator in voting decisions or voter turnout.


We currently have two Senators we never see, who don’t have public events, and who haven’t until recently spoken out about issues important to us - even then still voting against our values without explanation.

Our campaign is raising the expectations for this office: in our messaging, in our huge number of publicly accessible events, in our detailed website that actually addresses real issues that impact people’s lives.

This year, we have the opportunity to decide whether absentee and silent Senators as the servants of Arizona are what we truly want... or push for something more as Democrats.


In the general election, we can have the lesser of two evils debate.


In the primary, we should be voting on our values because that demonstrates to candidates what we expect from them… and that we won’t be taken for granted.


We will win races in Arizona if we’re willing to work for it, candidates and supporters. The landscape has changed and we have to recognize that. People are hungry for leaders and solutions, but making decisions like it’s a pre-2016 world will prove to be disastrous in both voter turnout and the type of candidates we elect.

Deedra Abboud for U.S. Senate