This week on The Brief: Ruben Gallego on turning Arizona blue, Kyrsten Sinema’s unclear priorities

This week on The Brief: Ruben Gallego on turning Arizona blue, Kyrsten Sinema’s unclear priorities

This week on The Brief, we discuss current political events in Arizona, a key battleground state and one that Democrats surprised many by flipping in the 2020 election. Arizona will be a fiercely contested state well into the future, and this week our hosts Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld discussed its pivotal role in the battle for democracy with guest Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), who offered insight into what Moulitsas calls “ground zero” in our fight for democracy today.

With the political situation in Arizona now a “circus,” as Markos says, the state’s GOP apparatus has devolved into petty infighting and a sham election “audit” in a clear attempt to sow doubt about the most recent and any future elections Democrats win in the state.

Setting the stage for viewers and listeners who might not have a background on what’s going on in Arizona right now, Eleveld gave an overview of the so-called election “audit” happening in Arizona right now:

The Senate Republicans [in Arizona] ordered this audit, and then handed it off to this group called Cyber Ninjas, which had zero actual experience conducting an audit. Then, the ballots and the machines got handed over them. They are a partisan, private-owned company that supported Trump. It’s just a mess. And what we find out now, just today, is that Maricopa County officials—where this supposed audit is taking place—they say they can no longer use the machines that were handed over to the Cyber Ninjas … because it’s too compromised. Now, that was a $6.1 million contract with Dominion for these machines. They were about halfway through that contract. Now, Maricopa County has to come up with new machines … by next year.

Rep. Gallego then joined the episode to offer more context as to events in Arizona.

With a recent poll of Arizona voters finding that a plurality of Arizona voters oppose this sham audit that is taking place and that independent voters opposed it by 18 points, Eleveld asked Gallego, “What kind of backdrop [is this] for 2022 in your state? Are Republicans shooting themselves in the foot here because they ordered this audit?”

“First of all, when it comes to Arizona Republicans … what you see is what you get, and right now, the Arizona Republican party is falling apart. So this kind of sham audit is a very good way for them to raise money and to distract from the fact that they’re losing elections … the only thing the Republicans understand, whenever they lose elections, is to go deeper and deeper into their base,” Gallego replied.

Calling their continued behavior pattern a “death spiral,” Gallego noted that the Republicans’ flailing and lack of strategy indicated a longstanding problem for the party. However, Moulitsas still worries about Republicans increasing Latino voter support, and asked Gallego what he thought.

Gallego agreed that there were some difficulties with Latino outreach during the pandemic, as reaching those communities requires a different strategy that isn’t always digital in nature:

Are Latinos going to start sliding towards Republicanism? Maybe … you need to actively work the Latino community and be actively present, and out there … you can’t do Zoom organizing in working class and Latino neighborhoods. You have to actually go door to door and have old fashioned conversations … We know the Republicans did. I think that was the biggest failure we saw within the Democratic circles, at least.

Of the Arizona GOP’s continued loyalty to Trump, Moulitsas noted, “There is no state party more tied to Donald Trump … this obsession with sticking with a loser, is that still happening?”

Gallego believes this GOP stance will ultimately work in Democrats’ favor: “I think that’s going to be a net positive for Democrats … I don’t think the Trump base comes out as strong when Trump is not on the ballot. Only Trump can really deliver Trump and the Trump voters, so … now, if Trump runs again in 2024, I can tell you I have other theories about that election. But I think he’ll do worse in 2024 than in 2020.”

Eleveld then pressed Gallego on his thoughts on his colleague Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s recent voting record and why she seems to have turned her back on the voters who helped her get into office in the first place.

Gallego, explaining that “Kyrsten has always run in really tough races,” said he understands the balance she has to strike and the importance of building a coalition of progressives, moderates, and independents. He offered that Sinema will “get there” but ultimately does support the Biden administration and its agenda:

At the end of the day, delivering for people matters. Also, our highest calling as representatives and senators should be the preservation of democracy … I truly believe that at the end of the day, Kyrsten understands that. She may be slow on the road to Damascus, but I think she’ll get there, and I think that’s the least we can ask at this time.

Moulitsas asked how Gallego would boost turnout in Arizona. Gallego listed three priorities: getting families out of poverty (permanent income tax credit, beyond families even, to get working class families to have the opportunity to get out of the poverty cycle really matters); a childcare subsidy that he would make universal; and lastly, healthcare. “A public option is, I think, the most important thing we can do right away,” Gallego urged.

Gallego has faith that Arizona is on the path to becoming a blue state, noting its continued growth and its burgeoning Latino population. “I think Biden’s approach, especially to the economy, is going to be important in doing better with a lot of swing voters than he did last time,” he added. “I think Arizona will maybe be a swing state in 2024 … it’ll be more closely aligned to New Mexico and Colorado.”

After Gallego finished his segment, Moulitsas and Eleveld offered deeper analysis of his remarks and what appears to be an odd political gamble on Sinema’s part. Eleveld had this to say about her:

Kyrsten Sinema is a political operative. She went from a diehard blue progressive to moderating her opinions … She is worried about her political future. That matters to her. I think it would be really hard for her to come out of Biden’s presidency, his first term, having tanked voting rights legislation … She didn’t get to be Senator by being dumb. And that would be dumb unless she plans to switch political parties … The [Republican] Party is on its way down. If the Republican Party there were ascendant, I would be like, ‘We may have a problem there.’

Sinema probably does not want to prevent Biden from having a successful presidency with a couple of wins under his belt before next year, Eleveld added. “I just don’t think she’s going to be the lone holdout to sink a bill … she needs the cover.” Moulitsas noted that Sinema broke a 30+ year losing streak for Democrats in Arizona but seems to have forgotten how she got where she is now: “Right now, I think she’s taken the progressive base for granted. I think she’s taken winning the primary for granted … At some point, she’s going to have to wake up.”

Eleveld praised Gallego’s long-term vision of bringing Arizona closer to the states like New Mexico and Colorado, which were formerly battleground states. “It’s interesting to think that he feels the Democratic Party there is further along in that progression than in Georgia,” she observed. Moulitsas believes there is hope for Arizona because there is much more low-hanging fruit and thus gains to be made among core Democratic constituencies in the state. “Every year, there’s that demographic shift … where younger, Browner voters [age into the voting demographic] … It makes it more difficult for the Republican party,” he added.

Lastly, Moulitsas and Eleveld unveiled a new series The Brief is launching this fall that will focus on key competitive or battleground states ahead of 2022. This series will highlight local groups doing work on the ground, help solicit early fundraising dollars, and share thoughts on the best strategies as we move towards the 2022 elections.

“These are things that actually do demonstrably earn votes … it’s what Daily Kos does best,” Moulitsas said. “So look out for that and get ready to get in on this effort early to save our democracy!”

You can watch the full episode here:

The Brief is also available on the following platforms:

Apple Podcast
Google Podcast

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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