Gallego speaks to Arizona primary volunteers before they canvass. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
PHOENIX — It’s a dry 108-degree heat this August afternoon, and Tony Valdovinos only prays it gets hotter. The curly-haired field director for Ruben Gallego, a Democrat running in the open House race here, has his reasons.
“We know when it’s hot, we’re the only ones out there,” says Valdovinos, slighting the opposition’s turnout operation as he drives through a wide boulevard en route to an early evening canvass.
In Arizona’s 7th District, a generational party brawl has consumed urban Latino politics, pitting a longtime local pol, former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, against Gallego, a former two-term state representative three decades her junior.
The decisive Democratic primary for retiring Rep. Ed Pastor’s seat is Tuesday, but the race has been culminating for weeks thanks to Arizona’s burgeoning permanent early voter list. In the Valley of the Sun’s prohibitively expensive media market, the victor will be decided by direct mail and, most importantly, a month-long get-out-the-vote push in the late summer heat.
In the weeks leading up to the primary, Gallego’s team expressed more confidence they will prevail. They’re probably right: A high-tech ground game has served him well, even in some of the southwest’s oldest barrios.