Update August 27 – Victory! You know you’ve made an impact on the race when Gallego backers tweet Wilcox staffers to “enjoy their dirty coal money.” We phonebanked, we rallied, we meme’d, but most of all we got the word out: Wilcox has secret deals with dark-money-source APS and openly takes coal-funded electric utility money. Local media tried to portray the race as simply one of personalities – they weren’t interested in Gallego’s efforts to talk climate policy with an editorial board – so we immediately obtained 400 signatures on a petition to the papers to cover climate issues. In short, we highlighted the contrast between a climate hawk and one who doesn’t care about the issue (or worse, would obstruct progress), and emerged victorious, thanks to smart on-the-ground organizing. Gallego defeated Wilcox, 48% to 36%, and is assured of a fall victory with no Republican opponent.
It’s a rare chance to elect a climate hawk in the House of Representatives this year in Phoenix, Arizona. We’re delighted to endorse Ruben Gallego in Arizona’s 7th Congressional District, in a Democratic primary August 26.
Here’s the setup. Retiring Rep. Ed Pastor has represented the deep blue district, but he’s apparently taken a vow of climate silence – he’s scored a grand total of 3 points, out of 100, on our scorecard by cosponsoring a handful of solar bills and otherwise ducking the issue. The front-runners are Iraq war veteran Ruben Gallego and county supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, facing each other (and assorted others) in less than five weeks.
Gallego’s announcement focused on climate change and wage disparity: “There really needs to be an argument on these issues, also from a Hispanic perspective,” he said. “I think we need Hispanic congressmen and congresswomen to start stepping up and talking about climate change, start talking about a living wage or at least a higher minimum wage, because that directly impacts Latinos here in this country.” He opposes both the Keystone pipeline and the Rosemont copper mine, and he wants to bring more solar energy (and jobs!) to the sunny state. Rep. Raul Grijalva, MoveOn, Dolores Huerta, and DailyKos are among his endorsers.
Meanwhile, his opponent takes coal money but doesn’t bother to include an energy/environment page on her website. Best guess: she’ll avoid mentioning climate and score in the same range as Pastor. Gallego, on the other hand, can be one of the few chances in 2014 to put a climate champion in the House.
Polls from a while back showed Gallego leading by a few points, but with a huge percentage of undecideds – in other words, the kind of race where voter contact and turnout make a difference. And that’s why we’re backing up our endorsement with boots on the ground, just as we’re doing in the Hawaii primaries. Best of all for Arizona’s democratic future, the more we turn out voters in a district that historically doesn’t vote much, the more we help turn them into habitual voters…and help turn around the politics of a sometimes-crAZy state.