The Democratic Exodus from the State Legislature Continues

Remind us if you’ve heard this story before: a Democrat legislator in Arizona leaves their seat, thus providing an opening for someone else to take their place and further upending the caucus. If it sounds common, it’s because it had happened a stunning five times already in this legislative session. Now it’s six, as Representative Marcelino Quinonez announced his resignation recently.

Quinonez represented the Democrat stronghold of south Phoenix and Laveen, and is rumored to be interested in the Phoenix City Council seat that Yassamin Ansari is vacating for her run for Congress in the seat that Ruben Gallego is vacating in his run for the US Senate.

Underscoring the chaos inherent in the Dem caucus this year, this news almost immediately followed the announcement of Deborah Nardozzi being appointed to the legislature in the 8th legislative district to replace Jevin Hodge after his resignation. If you’re unaware of the Hodge scandal, we recommend you get up to speed with our coverage of it here.

Whenever there is an exit from such a high-level “safe” seat like a Congressional seat in a heavily partisan district, it has a domino effect, as numerous people exit their posts in order to run for a seat that they could easily keep for decades in all likelihood, as was the case here. That domino effect has secondary effects, and in this case it’s a Phoenix City Councilmember (Ansari) offering a vacancy in another significant elected position.

Another interesting dynamic that serves as an intriguing sidenote: according to sources, Quinonez had been dating Sarah Ligouri, a beneficiary of the litany of resignations, having been appointed to the legislature twice, most recently to fill the seat of Jennifer Longdon in Arizona’s 5th legislative district. Always such a small and weird world, politics is.

With such incredible turnover, things will likely be difficult for the Democratic caucus. New faces will have to come up to speed, there will be a learning curve, and newbies will make mistakes. New people will have to learn how to effectively work with each other, and the caucus is likely weakened as a result. But perhaps the new batch of fresh blood will end up being more effective legislators. Only time will tell.