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Democrats vying for legislative control, party receiving millions of dollars to flip seats

Posted at 10:24 PM, Oct 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-26 01:24:52-04

From Sunnyslope Mountain, thru streets of manicured yards and gentrified homes, Phoenix to Paradise Valley to portions of Scottsdale, Legislative District 28 is State Senator Kate Brophy-McGee’s turf. “I think it’s a comfort to my constituents that I’m out there, and I’m working as hard as I can on their behalf.”

In the Southeast Valley, State Senator J.D. Mesnard’s legislative district 17 includes most of Chandler and Sun Lakes, a quaint town square, nice parks, good schools and retirement living. “So we’ve had a lot of growth, we’ve had a lot of folks come from bluer states, which says something about our state and the state they’re coming from.”

Brophy-McGee and Mesnard have served 10 years in the legislature. Both find themselves in the political fights of their careers.

Because after decades playing the role of the loyal opposition, Arizona Democrats believe they are on the verge of pulling off what was once unthinkable.

Winning control of one or both chambers in the State Legislature. Democrats need to win three seats in the Senate and they have their sights on LD 28 and LD 17.

“I will tell you I am shocked by the amount of out of state money with the reason being to turn the chamber blue,” says Brophy-McGee.

Democratic voter registration numbers have grown in both districts. With the numbers comes the money. “Truth be told, it’s the first time any legislative candidate has had this kind of money. Nobody has ever crossed the million-dollar threshold,” Mesnard said. "Yet in my race, we’ve seen over $1.1 million in attacks mostly from out of state groups.”

Mesnard is running against Ajlan Kurdoglu. A political newcomer, first-generation American. Brophy-McGee is up against Christine March, a former Arizona teacher of the year.

Marsh ran against Brophy-McGee in 2018 and lost by only 260 votes.

“These are people who are a lot like me, they just want to get down there and get to work on improving our state, they’re not super partisan. They’re not super political and honestly, that’s where so much of Arizona is right now.” State Representative Aaron Lieberman (D) Paradise Valley Dist. 28 said.

That irony is not lost on Senator Brophy-McGee who has a long history of sponsoring legislation that receives bipartisan support.

“I have my story, and I’m sticking to it,” she says. For his part, as Speaker of the House, Mesnard pushed thru the teacher pay raise.

During the 2020 session, he sponsored a health insurance bill that covered pre-existing conditions that did receive bipartisan support.

“It’s not exactly a fair game at the moment, but when we are able to break thru, and people hear about my record and what bills I’ve run,” Mesnard says, “I think that resonates with them.”

Both Senators are counting on their brand to help them withstand the onslaught of social media ads, mailers and phone calls that either target them directly or promote the people they are running against. But this year, a political brand may only go so far. “Eleven days in there are more early ballots in for Democrats than the entirety of 2016,” says ABC 15 Data Guru Garrett Archer.

While Archer expects Republican early ballots to start to catch up with the Democrats, he’s not ruling out a changing of the guard at the legislature. “They will have to have a very good night for that to happen,” Archer says. “Are the ingredients there for Democrats to have a good night in Arizona? As of right now, absolutely.”