Rural Utah Project

Navajo Times: Arizona flips! Navajos contribute to historic shift

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Read the Original Piece in the Navajo Times.


For only the second time in the last 70 years, Arizona voters went for the Democratic candidate for president, and Navajo voters contributed to the swing.

Apache, Navajo and Coconino counties, the three that overlap the Navajo Nation, went solidly for Joe Biden, with 73,954 votes compared to just 2,010 for incumbent President Donald Trump — a 97 percent turnout for Biden compared to 51 percent statewide. (Note: all the votes are not yet counted and all results listed are unofficial.)

Most experts, however, were attributing the swing to a large increase in the number of young Latinx voters in the southern part of the state. Voter participation in the three counties that include Navajo was up only four percent over the last presidential election in 2016 — but overall voter turnout in the state was actually down by nearly nine percentage points, which could reflect some disillusioned Republicans shying away from voting for Trump but not wanting to vote for Biden either.

Arizonans also narrowly elected former astronaut Mark Kelly over appointed Republican incumbent Martha McSally for U.S. senator, and incumbent Democrat Tom O’Halleran will continue to represent District 1 in the U.S. House.

The two ballot initiatives — one to legalize recreational marijuana and the other to tax high earners to fund education — both passed, the former with 60% of the vote and the later with 53%.

All three Diné state legislators, all Democrats, retained their seats. State Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai ran unopposed, and representatives Myron Tsosie and Arlando Teller solidly survived a rather vicious campaign by their Republican opponents, James Parks and David Peelman, that included memes labeling them “baby killers.”

“I am sincerely grateful for your support and encouragement to serve a second term as your state representative in District 7,” Teller posted on his Facebook page.

“Thank you to everyone and hugs to all that voted blue!” posted Peshlakai.

Steven Begay, chairman of the Apache County Democratic Party, said local party officials were much more active than they had been in the past, registering voters, hosting candidate forums on KTNN and attending statewide party meetings.

“It’s the first time Apache County sent a chair to the state meeting,” Begay said. “When I introduced myself, everyone stood up and applauded.”

He added that the Democrats in the state ran factual campaigns and did not respond to baseless attacks from the right.

“We did our job,” he said. “We turned Arizona blue. Now it’s up to the Eastern states to decide if we get another four years of this guy (Trump).”

As of press time, Joe Biden had 264 electoral college votes to Trump’s 214, with races in Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia still undecided. Each candidate needs a total of 270 electoral college votes to win the election.

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