Lack of Endorsements in AZ Statewide Contests Reveals Potential Dem Schism

AZ Dems in disarray

Arizona Democrat David Garcia / AP
September 11, 2018

David Garcia, the Democratic nominee for governor in Arizona, sidestepped several questions from a TV reporter on Monday about the lack of an endorsement from Kyrsten Sinema, the party's nominee for U.S. Senate, and vice versa.

In the interview with local CBS affiliate KTVK, Garcia twice brought up the notion of "factions" within the party, raising questions about Democratic unity in the state going into the November election to the point that the station's headline posed the question, "Democratic Dysfunction?" 

REPORTER: Where's Kyrsten Sinema?

GARCIA: I don't know. You'd have to talk to Sarah [Garcia’s communications director] about where Kyrsten is on that. That's a good question. 

REPORTER: Do you want her endorsement?

GARCIA: You know, look. No. I just think in this case we're a party that's got a lot of factions to it. Big tent in this case. And I think Sinema and I complement each other in lots of ways.

REPORTER: Do you expect that she's going to endorse you? Would you endorse her?

GARCIA: Well, again, I think we are a candidate and we're a campaign, we're a party with a lot of factions and we complement each other.

REPORTER: Not ready to endorse her yet, huh?

GARCIA: Again. We are . . . We are ready to work. That's what we're doing.

Garcia is battling incumbent Republican Governor Doug Ducey, and recent polling has shown the race either being very close or leaning toward Ducey.

Sinema is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Jeff Flake (R.); she is facing Martha McSally, who won the Republican nomination at the end of August. One of the first polls released after the conclusion of the primary by Gravis Marketing showed a slight lead for McSally, but also registered a high number of undecided voters.

The split between the two caught the attention of local reporters after Garcia tweeted out a list of endorsements from former and current members of Congress from Arizona, and Sinema's absence stood out.

"I think the biggest takeaway is that, clearly, there's some bad blood between Garcia and Sinema because, given one being moderate and one being progressive, electorally it makes a lot of sense for them to team up," said Mike Noble, chief pollster with OH Predictive Insights, a Republican firm that does polling and analysis for mainstream outlets.

"You have Sinema running straight to the middle, which is the conventional wisdom on the Democrat side of how to win in Arizona. But then you have Garcia, who has not moved to the middle, has no plans of moving to the middle. He's sticking to his progressive stance like he’s staunchly there. Them combining makes a lot of sense because they both appeal to different shades of the Democratic Party."

Noble said the feud could be damaging to fundraising for the candidates as well if the split bleeds over into the donor base.

Garcia's campaign took a progressive turn in early July when the candidate backed the #AbolishIce movement which was growing at the time in backlash to parts of President Trump’s immigration policies.

Governor Ducey reacted by firing off an op-ed to USA Today.

"This isn't a political debate—it's real life," Ducey wrote to a nationwide audience. "The impact of illegal drug cartels, human trafficking, and child sex trafficking on communities and families is real and raw. In border communities like this, law enforcement isn't the enemy—they are a lifeline. Sheriffs and police chiefs are crying for help, and unfortunately they are too often ignored by Congress and much of Washington, D.C."

Neither campaign returned a request for comment.

Published under: Arizona