Oct 19, 2023 - News

Tempe's Navarro plans Board of Supervisors run that could give Democrats a majority

Maricopa County Supervisor Jack Sellers in 2021. Photo: Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images

Tempe City Council member Joel Navarro is forgoing re-election to run for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, a race that could pave the way for Democrats to win a majority for the first time in decades.

Driving the news: Navarro tells Axios Phoenix he plans to run in District 1, which includes Ahwatukee, Chandler, Gilbert and Tempe.

  • The district is currently represented by Republican Supervisor Jack Sellers.

The intrigue: Navarro has "nothing against Jack Sellers" and thinks he's doing a "wonderful job" but is skeptical Sellers will be the GOP nominee next year.

Yes, but: When Axios Phoenix asked Hoffman via text message on Tuesday about the rumors he'll challenge Sellers in the GOP primary, he wrote back: "You need better sources."

  • However, he did not definitively rule it out.

The big picture: The Board of Supervisors has long been a Republican stronghold, with four Republicans and one Democrat.

  • Changing demographics and the county's recent redistricting could give Democrats a chance to win two or three seats on the board.
  • "If it does translate that way, it could turn the tables there," Navarro said.

Between the lines: Republicans hold a distinct voter registration advantage in District 1, making up nearly 36% of the electorate to Democrats' 28%, but recent election results indicate it could be competitive.

  • District 1 became more favorable for Republicans in redistricting, but its voters still favored Democrats in most recent statewide races.
  • According to an analysis by Democratic data consultant Sam Almy, President Biden won 50.3% of the district's votes to Donald Trump's 47.6% in 2020.
  • Democratic candidates for governor, secretary of state and attorney general won the district last year, and Democratic U.S. Senate nominees won there in 2022, 2020 and 2018.

The other side: Sellers says he tends "to be fairly nonpolitical" and isn't paying much attention to the partisan makeup of his district or rumored opponents.

  • "I just want to do my job. I enjoy doing my job. So that's where my concentration is," he tells Axios Phoenix.

Meanwhile, former Phoenix City Council member Daniel Valenzuela, a Democrat, is running for the open seat in District 3, which covers much of north and central Phoenix and became more favorable for his party in redistricting.

  • Incumbent GOP Supervisor Bill Gates isn't seeking re-election.
  • GOP candidates Kate Brophy McGee and Tabatha LaVoie have filed to run as well.
  • Republicans have a razor-thin voter registration edge in the district, but Democrats have won the district in most statewide races over the past few elections.

Flashback: Gates and Sellers only narrowly defeated their Democratic challengers in 2020.

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