With no less than American democracy hanging in the balance, Kamala Harris came to Phoenix on Friday to talk about the fundamental right of abortion.

This is an election year, after all, in which Americans could re-elect Donald Trump, the man most responsible for knocking down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that established a woman’s right to abortion.

With so much at stake, Kamala Harris, the first woman and first African American to serve as vice president, came to South Mountain Community Center in Phoenix and told some 200 faithful that “the eyes of the nation are on Arizona.”

Missing from the faithful, however, were the two most powerful Democrats in the state of Arizona – Gov. Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes.

Also missing was the Democrats’ U.S. Senate candidate Ruben Gallego, but we’ll get to him later.

One might expect that Hobbs and Mayes could make time for the most powerful woman and second-highest ranking Democrat in the United States.

Harris also happens to be the White House point person on the Women’s Health Protection Act, a proposal to enshrine a woman’s right to abortion in federal law.

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Which is of particular interest to our top Arizona Democrats.

Hobbs and Mayes were after all the state’s two most unabashed supporters of abortion rights – who made the unlimited and unregulated right to an abortion – the cornerstone of their elections.

This is the most extreme position one can take on the left and Hobbs and Mayes make no apologies.

So where were they on Friday?

Arizona Republic reporter Laura Gersony posed this most intriguing question about the Harris visit and got this answer.

“Gov. Katie Hobbs and Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes were invited to appear with Harris, but both declined, citing scheduling conflicts.”

What could be more important that particular Friday than a vice-presidential visit on their signature issue?

Well, here’s how Katie Hobbs described it at a news conference: "I have meetings, I don’t know exactly what they are. I don’t even know what I’m going to after this. I don’t have my calendar memorized for tomorrow."

Oh. OK.

Democrats hate Kyrsten Sinema.She sees right through them.

To her credit, Mayes had a better answer.

Her spokesperson Richie Taylor said she couldn't make it because she would be taking her daughter to the airport for spring break. Otherwise, she would have been there, Taylor said.

In the universe of Kris Mayes, her daughter ranks higher than the nation’s vice president.

Good for her. She's right.

But could there be other reasons why our two top Arizona Democrats who are maximalists on the issue of abortion would skip the Harris visit?

Could it be because the Biden-Harris administration is one of the most unpopular in history?

Joe Biden’s national popularity rating at the moment is 40% in the Real Clear Politics average and sub-40 (39%) in Arizona.

In Arizona, Trump is leading Biden right now by 5.5%, according to the RCP average.

Have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris become so unpopular they are a liability to Arizona Democrats?

I don’t think that explains Hobbs or Mayes.

They don’t have elections in the horizon and this election will be well in the rear-view mirror by the time they’re up again. But they do have an interest in scoping out the broad center in Arizona, where Republican registered voters outnumber Democrats by 236,000 votes, while independents outnumber Democrats by nearly 200,000.

That's a long-term project and probably has more to do with it.

There’s something else. Arizona is a battleground state that could possibly rate a dozen or more visits from the presidential candidates and their surrogates over the next few months. Are they going to trot out to every one of these, every time a party dignitary touches down at Sky Harbor?

The other intriguing question from the Harris visit was where was Ruben Gallego, the full-throated woman’s rights candidate who has been pile-driving Kari Lake every chance he gets on the issue.

The Supreme Court's demolition of Roe has been the centerpiece of Gallego’s campaign and fundraising, but he didn’t have time for Kamala Harris on reproductive rights in his home district?

As reported by The Republic’s Gersony, his “aides ... said on Friday that Gallego ‘had votes this morning’ and confirmed he will not be in attendance.

However, Harris did mention Gallego during her speech, saying "(he) wanted to be here today.’”

Yes, it sure seems like it.

Phil Boas is an editorial columnist for The Arizona Republic. Email him at phil.boas@arizonarepublic.com.

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Arizona's top Democrats skipped VP Harris visit. They've no good answer

11 10
12.03.2024

With no less than American democracy hanging in the balance, Kamala Harris came to Phoenix on Friday to talk about the fundamental right of abortion.

This is an election year, after all, in which Americans could re-elect Donald Trump, the man most responsible for knocking down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that established a woman’s right to abortion.

With so much at stake, Kamala Harris, the first woman and first African American to serve as vice president, came to South Mountain Community Center in Phoenix and told some 200 faithful that “the eyes of the nation are on Arizona.”

Missing from the faithful, however, were the two most powerful Democrats in the state of Arizona – Gov. Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes.

Also missing was the Democrats’ U.S. Senate candidate Ruben Gallego, but we’ll get to him later.

One might expect that Hobbs and Mayes could make time for the most powerful woman and second-highest ranking Democrat in the United States.

Harris also happens to be the White House point person on the Women’s Health Protection Act, a proposal to enshrine a woman’s right to abortion in federal law.

I........

© Arizona Republic


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