Jul 5, 2022 - Politics

Marco Lopez says he's the only Democrat who can win AZ governor's race

A man in a blue polo that says "Marco Lopez Governor" talking to another man.
Photo: Courtesy of Marco Lopez for Governor

Marco Lopez is hoping to convince voters that he's the only Democrat who can win the gubernatorial election in November.

  • Yes, but: He faces an uphill climb against front-runner Katie Hobbs, who's dominated the primary since she entered the race.
  • The election is Aug. 2, and early voting begins Wednesday.

The big picture: Lopez touts himself as the only candidate with federal, state and local experience.

  • He was elected mayor of Nogales, Arizona, at age 22 and ran the Arizona Department of Commerce under former Gov. Janet Napolitano.
  • He also served as the chief of staff for Customs and Border Protection during her tenure as Homeland Security secretary.
  • Lopez, a native of Nogales, Mexico, says he's running to restore the promise that brought his parents to Arizona: that there's opportunity here for anyone who works hard and plays by the rules.

The intrigue: Hobbs, who was elected secretary of state in 2018, has serious baggage in the form of a federal jury's verdict that she fired a Black staffer in the state Senate in 2015 in retaliation for complaining that she was paid less than white male colleagues.

Lopez says Hobbs can't win the general election, telling Axios in an exclusive interview, "There's too much at stake. If I don't win this primary then it is over Aug. 3 because Republicans will be very aggressive against the only national Democrat gubernatorial candidate with a record of discrimination."

Zoom out: Lopez cites education, health care and affordable housing as his major focuses.

  • He also proposes tax credits and subsidies to help pay for child care, which he says would alleviate the disproportionate trouble that women have had getting back into the workforce in the wake of the pandemic’s disruptions.

On education, Lopez says he wants to invest an additional $2.5 billion in higher teacher pay, community colleges and early childhood development.

Lopez's housing plan calls for the Arizona Commerce Authority to use at least $200 million for bonds on affordable housing.

  • He also wants to use a half-billion dollars in leftover federal stimulus dollars to "kickstart a new era of housing development" and to push for zoning legislation that would permit more mixed-use density housing.

Health care: Lopez says he wants to sign up 200,000 Arizonans who are eligible for the state's Medicaid plan but haven’t enrolled in yet.

Between the lines: With Latinos switching their support from Democrats to Republicans in increasingly greater numbers, Lopez says he can appeal to Hispanic voters.

  • Democrats have taken Latinos for granted, he says, and Republicans are appealing to them on issues that matter to them.
  • "They're worried about housing. They're worried about their kids' education. They're worried about making sure that they have quality health care," Lopez says.
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