Ignoring the Forecast: Eleven Candidates to Beat the Red District Blues

The following post was written by Marcy, Matt, and Anna.

Past election patterns and current forecasts can give pundits and the public a good idea of what to expect on Election Day, but they guarantee nothing. A new, unique, or charismatic candidate can inspire an unexpected voter turnout and make predictions less reliable — while low-turnout elections, on the other hand, commonly favor the status quo and conservative candidates. That’s why we’re spotlighting candidates whose qualities are outstanding — but whose districts haven’t always favored candidates like them. Extraordinary odds call for extraordinary candidates to overcome them, and we think these are the candidates for the job.

Let’s meet some of our endorsed candidates — all Democrats — who are currently campaigning in districts with Republican advantages.

Legislative districts 16, 20, 21, 22, and 25 on a map

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Meet Our Candidates: Archangel Muscato for State Senator, LD 22

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

arky muscatoIn Legislative District 22, which serves approximately 85,000 people and covers ground including Sun City West, Mountain Vista, Surprise, and Lake Pleasant, Archangel “Arky” Muscato is running for a seat in the state Senate, which he hopes to win from incumbent Judy Burges.

Sen. Burges recently named health care as one of her top three priorities. This priority does not include reproductive health care for the women of LD 22 — as Burges makes clear, they are excluded from those she intends to serve: “I am pro-life and will work to protect the most vulnerable among us, whether they are at the beginning of life or the end of life.” Her voting record substantiates her exclusion of those who need protection in the middle of their lives: Burges was a prime sponsor of HB 2284, which authorizes unannounced inspections of abortion facilities without a warrant.

Sen. Burges also cites the importance of education across Arizona school districts, but excludes Arizona’s school children from those she intends to protect, as she supports the largely ineffective abstinence-only sex education instead of comprehensive sex education, preventing students from learning about essential quality of life issues, including how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Finally, Burges’ campaign promises to exclude the LGBTQ community from the groups she is willing to serve — demonstrated by her vote in favor of discrimination on the grounds of religion (SB 1062) and her views that she “support[s] Arizona’s Constitution and believe[s] that the institution of marriage between one man and one woman should be protected,” which runs against the grain of Arizona’s future.

Conversely, Mr. Muscato is running on a platform of “equal rights for all Arizonans.” He was kind enough to talk to us via telephone on October 15, 2014, to speak in more depth about his commitment to all human rights.

“My opponent is for limited government except when it comes to women’s rights and gay rights.”

Tell us a little about your background.

I came to Arizona in 1978 out of Buffalo, New York, with a bachelor’s of science in education. I started teaching under contract in the Deer Valley District in 1979. I retired in 2006, and my wife also taught in Deer Valley for 30 years. So, after 30 years we both decided it was time to do something different, especially with the cuts in pay and benefits that were looming and the increased responsibilities with very little value placed on education and, specifically, teachers. Continue reading