Raquel Teran elected Arizona Democratic Party chair

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Democrats on Saturday picked Raquel Terán, a progressive state lawmaker, to be the party's next chairwoman as they look to maintain their top-of-the-ticket successes and extend them to down-ballot races.

Terán was a leader of the Latino-led movement that organized a decade ago following the passage of SB1070, a state law that targeted people living in the country illegally. She worked on successful efforts to recall the bill's sponsor, former Sen. Russell Pearce, and defeat Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Democrats are emerging from decades in the shadows of Arizona politics. President Joe Biden won the state's 11 electoral votes, and voters elected Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly in 2018 and 2020, respectively, marking the first time in seven decades that Democrats have held both U.S. Senate seats in Arizona.

But the party has been less successful in lesser-known races. Even as Kelly and Biden won last year, Republicans retained control of both legislative chambers and the state utility regulator. Republicans also won hotly contested races for supervisor, recorder and county attorney in Maricopa County.

Kelly, who won a special election last year to finish the last two years of the late Sen. John McCain's term, faces a tough reelection fight next year. President Donald Trump's presence on the ballot led to sky-high turnout last year among his supporters and detractors alike; it's unclear how Democrats will do without him on the ballot.

Terán won by a wide margin during a virtual convention with the support of much of the party's most prominent figures, including Kelly and Sinema, members of congress, legislative leaders and mayors.

“I am so happy that we won on top of the ticket. It feels good to win on the top of the ticket, but the consequences of losing the bottom of the ticket are life-altering,” Terán said in a two-minute pitch to convention delegates, according to The Arizona Republic. “Losing means that our communities suffer.”

The party must find energizing candidates and leave no portion of the state behind, she said.