Aug 29, 2023 - Politics

Ansari and Terán likely to dominate CD3 race following Pastor's departure

Side by side photos of a woman in a blue-green blazer and a woman in a red blazer.

Raquel Terán, left, and Yassamin Ansari. Photos: Courtesy of Raquel Terán for Congress and Yassamin for Congress

A once-crowded field for the south and west Phoenix-based 3rd Congressional District has winnowed down and is largely viewed as a two-way race between Yassamin Ansari and Raquel Terán.

The big picture: The CD3 seat is open for the first time since 2014 — previously it was open during a 1991 special election — due to incumbent Ruben Gallego's decision to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kyrsten Sinema.

  • The district is overwhelmingly Democratic, meaning the winner of the Democratic primary will be the next representative for CD3.

The intrigue: Several people emerged as potential candidates in January when Gallego announced his campaign, but most didn't run.

  • Of the candidates who did, two recently dropped out, citing health concerns — Osborn School District board member Ylenia Aguilar and Phoenix City Council member Laura Pastor.
  • That leaves Ansari, a Phoenix City Council member, and Terán, a former Arizona Democratic Party chair who resigned from the state Senate for her campaign earlier this year, as the main contenders for the seat.
  • There are other candidates as well, including Trista di Genova, Allen Heatley, Hector Jaramillo and Duane Wooten, but most observers don't expect them to compete with Ansari and Terán for the Democratic nomination.

Zoom in: Ansari is a City Council member who's "constantly out and about" in her district, hosting resource fairs, town halls and hiring events, so voters "are able to see in real time the work that I'm already delivering for my district," she tells Axios Phoenix.

  • She also boasts a substantial fundraising advantage, collecting $510,000, to Terán's $206,000, through the end of June.
  • The race will largely be about communication with voters, she tells us, and her fundraising will allow her to put "an army of individuals out in the field."
  • Yes, but: About $100,000 of Ansari's money can't be spent until after the primary.

Terán has worn a lot of hats in her career, most recently as Senate minority leader and Arizona Democratic Party chair. But what paved the way for that was her work as a community organizer.

  • She touts her effort on the successful recall of former Senate President Russell Pearce, her campaigning against former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and her advocacy on behalf of labor and other issues, which she says has allowed her to build a large coalition of support.
  • Terán says her time in the Legislature opposing "extreme" Republicans makes her well-equipped to do the same in Congress.
  • Money isn't everything, Terán says, insisting she'll have enough to get her message out and that her volunteers will be key.

Between the lines: Steve Gallardo, a Democratic county supervisor who represents much of CD3, tells Axios Phoenix that Ansari's biggest strength is her fundraising and Terán's is her grassroots background.

  • Fundraising matters less in CD3 than in other districts, he adds. The low turnout in the district means TV ads, the staple of high-dollar campaigns everywhere, have less impact.
  • "It's a whole different campaign plan. And that campaign plan is grassroots, it is going door-to-door," he says.

Zoom in: Gallardo, who isn't endorsing in the race, says Pastor had a substantial name ID advantage that Ansari and Terán lack.

  • While the district is predominantly Hispanic, Gallardo says, he doesn't think not being Latina will hurt Ansari, whose council district has similar demographics to CD3.

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