Biden campaign announces second round of staff hires in Arizona

Biden campaign announces second round of staff hires in Arizona
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Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore HuffPost reporter: Biden's VP shortlist doesn't suggest progressive economic policies Jill Biden says she plans to continue teaching if she becomes first lady MORE’s presidential campaign on Tuesday announced a second round of staff hires in Arizona as Democrats pour additional resources into The Grand Canyon State in an effort to turn it blue this fall.

The campaign announced five new staffers for its team in the state, building on two top hires announced last last month. Democrats hoping to flip Arizona point to lagging poll numbers for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE amid his response to the coronavirus pandemic and protests over systemic racism.

The Biden campaign has brought on Tony Cani and Jacob Smith as deputy state directors in Arizona. Cani previously managed Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego’s campaign in 2019 and worked as the American Civil Liberties Union’s political director in the state, while Smith most recently worked on the White House campaigns of Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandExpanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHuffPost reporter: Biden's VP shortlist doesn't suggest progressive economic policies Hillary Clinton labels Trump coronavirus executive actions a 'stunt' Michelle Obama, Sanders, Kasich to be featured on first night of Democratic convention: report MORE (D-Mass.). Smith also headed the party’s turnout operation to boost Kyrsten Sinema’s successful Senate bid in 2018.

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Cynthia Aragon, who worked for the Arizona House of Representatives Democratic Caucus for almost 12 years, will join the Biden team as its Arizona political director, and Geoff Burgan, who served as Iowa communications director for former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-Texas) presidential campaign, will be Biden’s communications director in the state.

Emma Brown is also moving over from Mark Kelly’s Senate campaign to be the Biden team’s coordinated director. 

The new slate of hires comes weeks after the Biden campaign announced it was bringing on Andrew Piatt as senior adviser in Arizona and Jessica Mejía as its state director there. Piatt managed Sinema’s Senate campaign, and Mejía previously ran Biden’s primary campaign in California, where the former vice president performed stronger than expected.

The hiring spree comes as the Biden campaign expresses confidence that it has a strong chance of winning Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. While the state has not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996, shifting demographics and recent polling have suggested that Arizona is set to be a top battleground state this November.

A CBS News/YouGov poll released this month showed the race between Biden and Trump tied, and a New York Times/Siena College poll from June showed Biden with a 7-point edge. 

Down-ballot Democrats are also running tight campaigns in Arizona, namely former astronaut Mark Kelly, who is running 9 points ahead of Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyCoronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Hillicon Valley: Facebook bans ads from pro-Trump PAC | Uber reports big drop in revenue | US offers M reward for election interference info MORE (R) in an OH Predictive Insights poll released Tuesday.

Biden’s campaign has filled out its staff in a number of other swing states, including Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin, among others, as it seeks to expand its path to 270 electoral votes this November.