Arizona Senate race features GOP candidate Elizabeth Reye and 3 Green Party candidates
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Arizona Senate race features GOP candidate Elizabeth Reye and 3 Green Party candidates

Arizona Senate race features GOP candidate Elizabeth Reye and 3 Green Party candidates

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Democrat Ruben Gallego and Republican Kari Lake have dominated the debate in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona, and Mark Lamb has done everything he can to insert himself into the conversation on behalf of the Republicans.

But voters will see several other, lesser-known names as they choose a successor to outgoing U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., next year.

Elizabeth Jean Reye is a Republican who despises Lake, wants her party to return to something more akin to Ronald Reagan’s vision, and is on the ballot in the GOP primary, which must be cast by July 30.

At the same time, Green Party voters will see a couple of names few of them will recognize, Arturo Hernandez and Mike Norton. But they won’t see one party official whose presence they would like to see: Eduardo Quintana.

The Green Party has two candidates on the ballot who are suspected of being planted by Democrats and Republicans. Quintana is hoping to win the primary via write-in.

Meanwhile, Sinema’s decision not to seek another term has simplified the electoral calculus in the race, but as an incumbent she can still pick up a handful of endorsements in November and take another small share of votes away from Gallego or the winner of the GOP primary.

This is the political context of Arizona, a space where some voters are sending out protest slogans or are supporting a vision of a completely different program than that offered by the major parties.

“People were saying, ‘Start with mayor.’ The thing is, running for mayor can cost the same, and Kari Lake is losing to Ruben Gallego … and she was driving me crazy,” said Reye, a neuroscientist from Paradise Valley. “She trashed Kyrsten Sinema’s border security bill. I thought that was pretty rude. We’re in Arizona, and immigration is a huge issue.”

For Quintana, who decided to run for the Senate because of his support for the Palestinian cause in the fight against Israel, the biggest problem at the moment is regaining control of the Green Party over the “two impostors” who qualified for the elections.

“I’m not being rhetorical. We really don’t know these people, we can’t talk to them, we can’t find a contact number, we haven’t met with them,” he said. “As far as we know, they’ve never been members of the Green Party. We know everyone in the Green Party who’s been interested in running on any issue.”

Elizabeth Reye: A Throwback for Republicans

Reye, 46, is realistic about his prospects but strongly believes Lake does not represent traditional Republican values.

“If I were magically lucky and defeated Kari Lake — good luck — I would work with the other side so we could strengthen that border.”

Reye said the Republican Party’s only chance of defeating Gallego is someone “less abrasive” than Lake.

“The problem is I don’t have any name recognition, so it’s a tough race,” Reye said. “If I lose in the primary, that’s OK with me. At least I know I did something I wanted to do.”

Reye considers herself a “classic Republican.” She thinks former President Donald Trump is “loud and rude, but he’s also been a tremendous economic booster.”

Despite all this, she is not a “MAGA extremist,” which she sees as the biggest difference between herself and Lake and Lamb.

“I don’t believe in voter denial at all. Kari Lake is still doing it,” Reye said. “If I lose, I lose.”

Reye is originally from Arizona, but she worked in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, studying schizophrenia by demonstrating its genetic basis in lab mice. She later lived in Oregon, where she made her first run for public office in 2018, for the state legislature.

Counts on an evidence-based approach to policy making.

“I think the extreme MAGAs are just embarrassing what I think of as the Grand Old Party,” she said, citing examples of vaccine rejection as well as Lake’s recent appearance in front of a Confederate flag.

Green Party Candidates: 2 on Ballot Paper a Puzzle for Party Leader

If Reye’s campaign goal is to improve her party’s performance, it’s unclear what the Green Party candidates are trying to achieve.

Hernandez has ties to the GOP. Norton has ties to the Democrats. Quintana is a longtime Green Party member but needs a write-in win to represent his organization.

Cody Hannah, co-chair of the Arizona Green Party, said neither Hernandez nor Norton responded to his requests to discuss their runs, assuming they are part of an effort by each major party to take over his party.

Republicans may be hoping Green siphons votes from Gallego. Democrats could benefit if the Green Party candidate drops out of the race when it’s too late for the party to do anything about it, Hannah said.

“This is what happens when duopoly parties think they can interfere in our democracy. They don’t believe in democracy. They don’t believe in giving everyone a fair chance. What we’re asking voters, not just in Arizona but across the United States, is to investigate the dirty tricks that are going on here.”

For now, the party has officially backed Quintana, who is an independent candidate, because the costs of collecting signatures were prohibitive.

Candidates: Arizona Mayor Appears with Kari Lake, But Endorses Ruben Gallego

Eduardo Quintana: Gaza is a key theme for the Greens

Quintana, 76, is a retired technician from Raytheon, which paradoxically helped build the bombs, and now wants to prevent what he calls genocide in Israel.

“I am in favor of cutting off all funding to Israel,” Quintana said of the country’s war against Hamas, the terrorist organization operating in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip. “It is a terrible crime against human rights.”

While Quintana is focused on the conflict involving Israel, he has made significant departures from his policies on other key issues in the Arizona Senate race.

He sees immigration and border security as a symptom of larger problems.

“We don’t see the situation at the border as an invasion, a terrorist threat, or even a criminal threat,” he said. “We see dealing with millions of people because of climate change, because of civil unrest in their country, as a crisis for our society. We see it as being misrepresented as a security threat. … They want jobs, and we need workers anyway.”

Quintana said he “doesn’t believe in capitalism” and believes inequality, from money to health care, is a real problem in the country’s economy. A major part of the solution, he said, is to redirect the economy toward creating renewable energy through jobs that pay decent wages.

Quintana supports abortion rights as a broader recognition of women’s rights.

Little information about Mike Norton and Arturo Hernandez

By comparison, it is unclear what the other Green Party candidates want.

Norton was not available to comment Tuesday on his Senate bid. His modest website notes professional experience in shipping and transportation and past support for Republicans and Democrats.

Norton’s campaign bears numerous signs of Democratic support.

Though he had never run for federal office before, shortly after launching his little-known campaign in late March, he raised $37,000 from sources that had previously donated to Democrats.

He received $20,000 from four political action committees — Defend the Vote, End Citizens United, Save Democracy and Amalgamated Transit Union — all of which had previously given almost exclusively to Democrats.

For example, ECU also donated $10,000 to Gallego’s campaign this cycle.

At least five of the six publicly disclosed individual donors previously gave significant amounts to Democrats or held positions in Democratic politics, including a senior policy adviser to the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. All are from the Washington, D.C., or Massachusetts areas.

Last year, Norton was registered as an independent voter, not the Green Party.

Information about Hernandez is even harder to come by.

He registered as a Republican in 2023, months before his Senate run, is a gaming agent for the tribe and had no apparent political past before his current campaign.

His original campaign treasurer was Chrissie Hastie, who runs a campaign compliance firm in Las Vegas.

She worked for an organization supporting Republican Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo and served as treasurer for Nevada Republican Danny Tarkanian’s unsuccessful 2018 congressional campaign.

Hernandez amended his campaign documents in April to show himself as treasurer instead of Hastie. He still provided her phone number as a point of contact.

The campaign’s finance report for the first three months of the year — including when Hernandez was collecting signatures to get on the ballot — shows no revenue or expenditures.

He has no visible campaign website and we were unable to contact him for comment on his run for the Greens.

In Arizona, the major parties dominate

A Democrat or Republican has won every Senate election in Arizona’s history. Beyond that, third parties rarely have much influence over the final results.

In 2022, for example, Libertarian Party candidate Marc Victor added a bit of potential tension to the race involving U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat from Arizona, and Republican Blake Masters.

Victor participated in the only debate between Kelly and Masters, cutting into the time of the other two candidates. Despite this, Victor withdrew from the race in recent days and urged his supporters to back Masters.

But early voting had already begun, which diluted the impact the gesture could have had. Ultimately, Kelly beat Masters by almost 126,000 votes, significantly more than the 54,000 votes Victor received.

It was similar in 2018, when Green Party candidate Angela Green withdrew from the race between Sinema, then a Democrat, and Republican Martha McSally. Sinema won by 56,000 votes. Green won by 57,000 votes.

Before that, U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., won his last term in 1980 by just 9,400 votes over Democrat Bill Schultz. Libertarian Fred Esser and two other minor-party candidates combined to win about 19,000 votes in that race.