Bill Gates is not only the founder of Microsoft…he’s also one of the five Supervisors at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors! Ok, that’s a bad joke, it’s a different Bill Gates. But our Gates has long been one of the more reasonable voices in leadership in his role representing County District 3, a district that essentially covers the entire geographic middle of Maricopa County from north to south (mainly Phoenix and Paradise Valley).
District 3 is rather politically moderate and is easily the closest thing that the district board has to a swing district, and Gates only won re-election by 1.5 percentage points in 2020. That swing county got even swing-ier after Gates, in the wake of threats made against him and his family because due to conspiracies related to recent elections, announced that he would not be seeking re-election. And unlike in the 2020 election when Gates ran against relative unknown Whitney Walker, the 2024 race is already setting up to be a blockbuster.
Indeed, we now have a very strong candidate with a track record of success from each party. First, former Republican state Representative and Senator Kate Brophy-McGee, who served the old legislative district 28 (covering the Biltmore/Arcadia neighborhoods of Phoenix and Paradise Valley) for a full decade. Then there’s Democrat Danny Valenzuela, former Phoenix City Councilman in district 5 covers parts of central and west Phoenix.
Brophy-McGee has a long and storied career in local politics, first winning office as state Representative in 2010 and maintaining that career with a history of pragmatism; a truly moderate Republican in a district that was too moderate to support anything else for any amount of time. After two terms in the House she went to the state Senate, and while she narrowly lost her bid for her 3rd term against rival Christine Marsh, she also raised $712K for the race, an absurd amount for a state Senate race and one that demonstrates true fundraising chops.
Then there’s Danny Valenzuela. He was a firefighter who leveraged that along with his local involvement and public engagement into a role in the Phoenix City Council, where he served two terms before running for Mayor in 2018. While he fell far short of defeating current Mayor Kate Gallego in that election’s run-off, he still showed quite a bit of support with prolific fundraising ability in his own right, and considering that assuming the two of them advance to the general election, he will also likely have complete union support.
Lastly, there have been rumblings that former Phoenix City Councilman and conservative darling Sal DiCiccio is also eyeing this seat. If he were to run, he would then become the favorite to win the Republican primary, which would then turn the general election into a showdown of former city council opponents.
It should be noted that the current make-up of the county Board of Supervisors is 4-1 in favor of Republicans. In the absence of major ideological shifts in the county, the best case scenario is a 3-2 Republican advantage if a Democrat were to win this seat; districts 2 and 4 have too much of a Republican registration advantage to easily overcome at this point. But a closer vote count may lead to some intriguing new dynamics. But regardless, it is delightful to see two strong public servants (and perhaps ultimately a third) take a swing at this seat, and exciting to see at least two experienced candidates go to battle.