Democrat withdraws from AZ Senate race, endangers party's chances of taking the chamber

By Camryn Sanchez
Published: Monday, April 15, 2024 - 3:27pm
Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 2024 - 11:59am

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Democrats' hopes of taking control of the Arizona Senate may be dashed, as the only Democratic candidate running in one of the state’s most liberal districts has dropped out. 

Rep. Melody Hernandez (D-Tempe) announced Monday that she’s withdrawing from the race for the Senate seat in Legislative District 8, a district that should be an easy win for Democrats.

melody hernandez
Arizona Legislature
Melody Hernandez

Hernandez withdrew her candidacy ahead of a Thursday hearing to examine the validity of the signatures she submitted to qualify for the ballot. She only narrowly cleared the 405-signature minimum by turning in 451 petitions.

David Alger, a Republican in LD8 who ran unsuccessfully for a House seat in 2020, filed a legal challenge to some of those signatures

Hernandez’s decision to drop out is an acknowledgment that Alger’s challenge would have succeeded.

“When it was brought to my attention this weekend that I had made mistakes impacting my ability to successfully run for election to the Senate in LD8, I knew the only right next step would be to take sole responsibility,” Hernandez said in a statement Monday.

Democrats in LD8 say they’ll field a write-in candidate to take Hernandez’s place and challenge Roxana Holzapfel, a Republican who, as of now, is the lone candidate running for the Senate seat.. 

“Our legislative district moving forward will not be faced with a lack of options for state Senate. We are blessed with a large pool of strong Democrats,” the district’s Democratic Committee said in a statement.

“We have the local infrastructure in place to make sure that whoever wins the write-in primary will defeat any Republican who has the misfortune of running in our district,” they added.

Former Tempe Councilmember Lauren Kuby announced Monday that she’s entering the race as a write-in Democratic candidate. Candidates have until June 20 to submit nomination papers to declare their candidacy as a write-in.

Write-in candidates must then receive at least 405 votes in the primary to advance to the general election in November. 

Write-in candidates rarely make it to the ballot, but a similar situation happened to Democrats in the last election in Legislative District 22. 

LD22 is another “safe” blue area, but the unopposed primary election winner, Diego Espinoza, withdrew from the race before the 2022 general election.

A dozen write-in candidates swarmed to run for the seat — including six Republicans.

The district’s Democrats rallied behind political newcomer Eva Diaz, while Republicans backed Steve Robinson by sending out flyers that didn’t refer to his party affiliation.

Diaz eventually won with 59% of the vote.

Politics Elections
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