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Arizona Rep. Andrade un-endorses Hobbs, switches to Lopez

Rep. Richard Andrade has withdrawn his endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Katie Hobbs over her role in the firing of former Senate staffer Talonya Adams and is now backing Marco Lopez, one of her rivals in the primary elections. 

Andrade, D-Glendale, announced on Friday that he’s endorsing Lopez. The Lopez campaign said Andrade is the first elected official to switch his endorsement to him from Hobbs. Hobbs announced Andrade’s endorsement last summer, about a month after entering the governor’s race. 

In a joint statement provided to the Arizona Mirror, Andrade and Rep. Melody Hernandez, a Tempe Democrat who endorsed Lopez last month, said they were initially excited to support Hobbs in the gubernatorial race. But over the last several months, they said they’d lost faith in her ability to lead the state. 

They specifically cited Hobbs’ responsibility for Adams’ firing in 2015. Adams was a staffer under Hobbs, who at the time was Senate minority leader. A federal jury in 2019 found that Adams, a Black woman, was underpaid due to her race and gender — staff pay is determined by Republican leadership — and a second jury last year found that she was fired for complaining about that discrimination. Both verdicts were against the Senate as a whole, not against Hobbs. 

After the verdict, Hobbs initially defended the firing, saying race and gender weren’t factors in the decision. She has since acknowledged that discrimination took place and issued a public apology to Adams

“As people of color and as union members, we care deeply about standing up for working families and representing those that too often don’t have a voice in politics,” Andrade and Hernandez said.

Given Hobbs’ role in Adams’ firing, the continued fallout from the two federal verdicts and what they said were increasing concerns from constituents about Hobbs’ ability to lead as governor, Andrade and Hernandez said, “we could no longer in good conscience support someone with her record.”

Andrade and Hernandez said Lopez “understands the complexities of being a person of color in this state” and has led Arizona “toward a more prosperous and inclusive future” from a young age in various roles. 

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“Over the past several months it has become clear that Marco can build the broad coalition we need to win in November, and has what it takes to build a brighter future for all Arizonans,” Andrade said in a statement issued by the Lopez campaign. 

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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State Representative Richard Andrade, D-Glendale, speaking with an attendee at the 2019 Legislative Forecast Luncheon hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.