Arizona has definitely been a red state for a long time; it voted significantly for McCain in 2008, Romney in 2012, and Trump in 2016; and its Governor, its state legislature, and both of its Senators are Republican. This isn’t new – this was the land of Goldwater back in 1964.
But the times are changing. Arizona is become more and more “purple”. The Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake is up for grabs, and Democrats see more and more opportunities. Even now, 4 of the 9 Congressional seats are held by Democrats – not an overwhelmingly Republican advantage.
That being said, the 8th Congressional district, a northwest suburb of Phoenix, with a seat vacated by a resigning Republican (Trent Franks), is still known to be strongly Republican. The Cook Report rates it as R+13, which means it is 13% more Republican than the national average. Trump won there by 21 points, Romney by 25. The April 24 special election there was viewed as a long shot by Democrats, and was definitely not on the national Party’s targeted list.
But along came Hiral Tipirneni, a former emergency room physician, a strong, kind woman who was willing to go through the difficult process of a campaign with the odds so high against her. She was a fantastic candidate – and she still is, since there will be another election for this district in November. While she didn’t win in April, she beat expectations by 20 points, with a gap of only 4.7%! And this was an election where outside groups poured in financial support for the Republican candidate, and the national Democrats largely stayed away.
This was a campaign that was ripe for the kind of volunteer-centric approaches that we have been promoting. Together with a great campaign staff and wonderful volunteers, Antonia promoted the techniques that had worked so well in Virginia, focusing on visibility and community engagement.
One approach to promoting visibility is with the much-maligned lawn signs. As we’ve noted in previous missives, research has shown them to be much more effective than previously thought. In the Arizona 8th, as in the Virginia effort before, there was a strong effort to make Hiral’s name well-known through efforts like this. 3000 lawn signs were distributed. You could see her previously-unknown name all over the district!
As in Virginia, post card writing parties were organized. These not only spread the word in a much more personalized way than the usual glossy mailers, but they engaged the community significantly. 17,000 handwritten postcards were distributed!
Of course, volunteers were also recruited for more traditional tasks like canvassing (over 56,000 doors knocked on).
We want to thank the many (over 300) volunteers who worked on the 8th district campaign. The picture above shows some of them, along with campaign staff and field organizers Luis Joy Perez and Jacob Kwasman. Antonia took the picture and so is not shown. Thanks to all of you who have already helped us in this mission!