Tipping the Balance: Why Primary Elections Matter

Arizona state Senate“We will remember in November,” say activists vowing to effect change at the polls. General elections, held in November, are contests between the candidates nominated by their political parties and decided by voters. They are phenomenally important, as their outcomes determine who our presidents, senators, representatives, and other legislators will be.


Not all Democratic candidates support reproductive rights, so check our list of endorsed candidates before voting a Democratic ballot!


What rhymes with August? “You’ll eat sawdust in August”? “We want laws just in August”? I’ll work on that, but for now you should know that the primary elections will be held in Arizona on August 26, and many important races will be decided in August rather than November. How is that possible? Sometimes, only one political party has candidates running for an office, meaning that whoever wins their party’s nomination in the primary election won’t face opposition in November.

In three such races, all featuring Democrats running for the state Senate, reproductive rights are at stake. So, in case you were wondering why voting in the primary elections is so important, read on to learn about these crucial races! And tell your friends in these Phoenix-area legislative districts that the decisions they make at the polls have the potential to bring balance to our state legislature in terms of reproductive health care access.

acotera_cropLegislative District 19: Angela Cotera for State Senator

There are three candidates for state Senate in LD 19, a district that includes Avondale and Tolleson. Two candidates are running in the primary election for the Democratic nomination: Dr. Angela Cotera and Lupe Contreras. No Republican candidate gathered enough signatures to qualify for inclusion on the primary ballot, but a write-in candidate and will appear on November’s ballot if he receives enough votes in August. Because of the absence of viable opposition from the Republican Party, it is nearly certain that the senate race in LD 19 will be decided by Democrats, as well as independents voting a Democratic ballot, in August.

While Dr. Cotera has earned Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsement, Mr. Contreras signed the Center for Arizona Policy’s statement denouncing Roe v. Wade. This proclamation calls for full rights to be given to eggs the moment they are fertilized by sperm.

In response, Dr. Cotera says that such a law “would mean that women have no more rights than an incubator, which is outrageous. I believe that all women have sovereignty over their own bodies, and no one has a right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do within her own body.”

Dr. Cotera’s commitment to full reproductive rights is just one reason why we’re so excited to endorse her in the LD 19 state Senate race. As a research scientist in a male-dominated field, she has years of experience making sure women’s voices are heard. You can learn more about her in our interview, in which Dr. Cotera speaks eloquently about the importance of access to family planning and sex education, as well as how crucial it is that we retain autonomy over our own bodies and destinies.

Marquez Planned ParenthoodLegislative District 27: Aaron Marquez for State Senator

The 27th legislative district includes parts of central Phoenix, Guadalupe, South Mountain, Tempe, and Laveen. Similar to the situation in the 19th district, LD 27 is the site of a heated primary race between two Democrats, one of whom might face a Republican challenger in November if that candidate receives enough write-in votes in the primary election. Democrats, as well as independents voting a Democratic ballot, can vote for either Aaron Marquez or Catherine Miranda. The lack of viable Republican opposition means that voters will likely decide the outcome of the LD 27 state Senate race in August.

Aaron Marquez, a veteran and Army reserve member, is running against current House Rep. Catherine Miranda, whose record on reproductive rights is abysmal. Most recently, she voted in favor of the warrantless inspections bill (HB 2284), which jeopardizes the privacy of reproductive-health patients. In previous legislative sessions, she has supported HB 2036, which prohibits abortion after 20 weeks; HB 2800, which prohibited AHCCCS patients from receiving preventive health services at providers like Planned Parenthood (this law has since been overturned); and HB 2443, which prohibits abortion based on race or gender — despite the fact that race- or sex-selective abortion has never been a problem in Arizona.

In response to Rep. Miranda’s voting record, Aaron Marquez says, “We’re night and day apart when it comes to each other’s opinions on choice … She’s been a clear anti-choice vote and a clear vote with the Republican Party.”

Mr. Marquez affirms his commitment to Democratic values, and says that in contrast, Catherine Miranda “does not represent those Democratic values and has had the opportunity to vote on anti-choice legislation and has done it. While her vote certainly matters in a chamber of 60 in the House of Representatives, it matters even more in a chamber of 30 in the Senate.”

Aaron Marquez has a passion for public service and strongly supports women’s rights, access to reproductive health care, and comprehensive sex education — and is the only LD 27 state Senate candidate who has earned Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsement! Read our interview to learn about his background, his vociferous support for reproductive rights, and the stark contrast between him and Rep. Miranda.

Martin Quezada 2014Legislative District 29: Martín Quezada for State Senator

The 29th legislative district includes parts of Phoenix, Glendale, and Litchfield Park. Two LD 29 candidates for state Senate are facing off against one another in the Democratic primary election: Martín Quezada and Lydia Hernández. In November, the winner will face Republican Crystal Nuttle — but she is not expected to defeat her Democratic challenger in this solidly blue district.

As a member of the House, Martín Quezada has stood against a number of bills that sought to limit reproductive rights in Arizona. In contrast, while his seatmate Lydia Hernández did not vote either way on the warrantless inspections bill, she has signed the above-mentioned Center for Arizona Policy proclamation denouncing Roe v. Wade. Furthermore, according to Rep. Quezada, Rep. Hernández reposted an image accusing him of supporting “women abuse [sic]” and “genocide” on her personal Facebook account, showing just how out of touch she is when it comes to understanding the vital services that Planned Parenthood provides. We can’t count on Rep. Hernández to stand for reproductive justice in the state Senate.

In contrast, Rep. Quezada says that “Roe v. Wade continues to be valid law despite the protests from extremists to the contrary. As the valid law of the land, it should be respected as such.”

Rep. Quezada also says that Rep. Hernández “has very publicly proclaimed her anti-choice stance by signing the above mentioned statement that was authored by Arizona’s most extreme organization, Center for Arizona Policy, and sponsored by one of the Arizona Legislature’s most extreme anti-choice members, Rep. Debbie Lesko.” He goes on to say that Hernández “could actually possibly shift the stance of the Democratic Caucus, and, as a result, of the entire Senate chamber if elected. That’s why it is so critical to support a candidate who will vote with your interests in mind to the LD 29 Senate seat.”

Martín Quezada stands strong for reproductive health and justice, and his experience and passion will make him an effective leader at the Arizona Senate. Read our interviews with Rep. Quezada — one conducted in 2012 and the other in 2014 — to learn more about his background and positions, and to see why he has earned Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsement in the LD 29 state Senate race!


You can learn more about our endorsed candidates in these critical state Senate races by viewing their websites: Angela Cotera in LD 19, Aaron Marquez in LD 27, and Martín Quezada in LD 29. You can also take a look at our full list of endorsed candidates.

If you don’t know what legislative district you’re in, you can click here to find out! You can also contact us if you’d like to volunteer for an endorsed candidate in your legislative district.

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