How Joe Biden made history in Arizona
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If you want to know how the 2020 presidential election was won, come to South Phoenix.

Here, in our sprawling city’s working class Latino neighborhoods, you can meet the activists, organizers and voters who helped put Joe Biden over the top in Arizona.

It’s the story of how a decade of hard work produced a razor-thin margin of victory — how 10 years of sweat purchased a 10,000 vote edge and moved the home state of Barry Goldwater into the Democratic column for only the second time in 70 years.


What felt to outside observers felt like a political earthquake — a spontaneous reaction to the corruption and incompetence of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE — was actually the culmination of years of strategizing and organizing by young Latino activists and their allies.

Arizona experienced the worst of Trumpism long before Donald Trump launched his campaign for the presidency. In 2010, Gov. Jan Brewer and the Republican state legislature passed SB 1070, the most draconian anti-immigrant law in America.

This bill inspired young Mexican-Americans across the state to get involved in politics for the first time. In the coming years, they held meetings, knocked on countless doors and registered tens of thousands of new voters and drove Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio out of office in 2016.

Their efforts laid the groundwork for Joe Biden’s historic victory in Arizona.

Recognizing Arizona’s potential early in the race, the Biden campaign made unprecedented investments in our state. He also ran a campaign calibrated to connect with every segment of our state’s diverse electorate.


Biden’s relentless focus on bringing Americans together and healing the wounds of the past four years resonated with everyone from retirees in Maricopa County to voters on the Navajo reservation who traveled hours over unpaved roads to reach the polls on election day.

In the midst of the deepest economic downturn in decades, Joe Biden campaigned on a plan to combat the pandemic and get our economy back on track. That’s an approach that resonated with the working-class Hispanic voters in my district.

Joe Biden was our general, but it took an army of organizers and activists to turn Arizona blue. It took strong Senate campaigns by Krysten SinemaKyrsten Sinema Parliamentarian nixes minimum wage hike in coronavirus bill Humanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives How Joe Biden made history in Arizona MORE and Mark KellyMark KellyKoch-backed group launches ads urging lawmakers to reject COVID-19 relief bill Conservative groups seek to bolster opposition to Biden's HHS pick On The Trail: Trump threatens a Tea Party redux MORE and the support of down ballot candidates.

In 2020, five progressive advocacy organizations came together to form Mi AZ. Pooling their resources and partnering with organized labor, these group collectively knocked on more than one million doors and made 8 million phone calls to voters in the run up to election day.

Over the past 10 years, Arizona activists learned how to effectively promote early voting and voting by mail in communities of color — tactics that proved especially useful under the unique conditions of this election. We’re still waiting for more data to come in, but by all indications, the returns on this effort were stunning. Mi AZ estimates that turnout in the key Latino precincts where the coalition focused its resources was up 20 percent over 2016, netting Vice President-elect BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE approximately 37,000 additional votes.

Demography isn’t destiny. It’s an opportunity. Joe Biden, Arizona Democrats and activists seized that opportunity in Arizona. We showed how Democrats can win the kind of closely fought contest in the sunbelt that could define our politics for a generation.

Republicans may have alienated much of the Latino community with their incendiary rhetoric on immigration, but that’s not enough — our party still needs to work to earn and win the trust and support of Latino families.

To win in 2024, our party needs to build on the Biden campaign’s tremendous investments in Latino outreach. Turning out and persuading Latino voters requires intensive effort over a period of years. Democrats can’t show up once every four years and expect to be seen as credible partners by the Latino community. In Arizona, our gains were the result of steady, focused, unceasing effort over a ten-year period.

Looking back at the past decade, I think about a Latina mom who I first met in 2010 running for the state house. Like all great moms, she wanted to talk about her kids, especially her son's hope to go to Northern Arizona University. I saw her two years later when her son was in college; I gave her advice about fraternities for her son and he actually ended up joining my fraternity Sigma Chi. By 2014 when I was running for Congress, she was insulted that I came back and asked her for vote. Of course, she would vote she told me, and she — along with her son and the rest of her family — voted for me and helped elect me to Congress. Today, she and her husband are empty nesters, still living in the same home. When I saw her this past fall, she was excited to talk about being a grandmom and her dreams for the next generation of her family. And yes, the whole family voted in 2020! The story of Arizona turning blue is her story.

To all of my friends in our party, please consider this an open invitation: if you want to know how the White House was won — and how Democrats can capture it again in four years — come visit us in South Phoenix.

Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoProgressives fume over Senate setbacks More than 0K raised for Ohio mom arrested for leaving kids alone at motel to work GoFundMe set up for mother arrested after leaving kids alone while at work MORE represents the 7th District in Arizona.