‘A nice deep breath’: How are Arizonans reacting to Joe Biden’s win?
By: Jamie LandersAudrey JensenMadeline AckleyDianna M. NáñezBree Burkitt Arizona Republic
As Arizona’s votes were still being counted, Arizonans reacted to former Vice President Joe Biden’s projected win in the presidential race Saturday.
After five days of ballot counting across a handful of battleground states, votes continued to be counted in Arizona with Biden leading by 20,573. The number of ballots left to count continues to dwindle. Saturday morning, numerous news outlets projected a win for Biden in Nevada and Pennsylvania, tipping the scales in his favor.
Roughly three hours after the win was called by the Associated Press, hundreds of Trump supporters gathered at the state Capitol for a “Stop the Steal” protest shortly after noon. The event was scheduled before news of Biden’s win after three days of protests at the Maricopa County Elections Center. It’s the latest in daily events in Phoenix and around the country started pro-Trump and other conservative groups claiming voter fraud.
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Few in the crowd were wearing masks. Many clutched American flags and Trump signs.
Many said “the media’s” projections declaring Biden the president-elect weren’t accurate and that Trump would ultimately be declared the winner after only “legal” votes were counted.
“The media today tried to call the election for Biden. Do you believe it?” Jake Hoffman, Queen Creek Town Council member running for the Arizona Legislature, asked.
The crowd shouted no.
Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward encouraged anyone who knows of voter fraud to report it. She repeatedly said they can’t allow the “election to be stolen.”
Other speakers echoed the sentiment, saying they refused to accept a Biden-Harris administration, to cheers from the crowd.
“This is not done!” one said. “This is going to the Supreme Court and will win!”
‘A nice deep breath’
Janey Pearl Starks said she broke into tears thinking about what the Biden-Harris win means for Latinos like herself, who have been fighting for immigrants and people of color in Arizona.
She came to the U.S. from Guadalajara when she was 8. She’s 39 now. Phoenix is home and while she works for Mountain Park Health Center, she’s been a political and community organizer for decades. Pearl Starks took two weeks off work before the election to help with the Biden-Harris campaign.
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Trump has targeted and dehumanized Latinos and immigrants like no president before, she said. That ends with a Biden and Harris administration, she said.
“I feel, personally, like it is the first time that I can take a nice deep breath,” she said, exhaling before she spoke again. “The pain that has he has caused people I know and love cannot be forgotten or forgiven. But today it was made clear that the majority of Americans, and soon it will be clear that the majority of Arizonans, believe that we are better than hate.”
She hopes the historic win of a female, Black and Asian American woman, the daughter of immigrants, working alongside a white man in the White House will send a message to the world about what and who America must stand for.
“Hate and the legitimization of hate is out the door because we no longer will have someone in the top position in our country agreeing with and fanning the flames of hate,” she said.
Stephanie Maldonado knows change comes slowly. And today, change was realized. The Biden-Harris campaign, she said, won because of people of color working for more than a decade to change Arizona.
Maldonado, 28, is a campaign director for Living United for Change in Arizona, LUCHA. The organization is intentional about describing itself as a “grassroots organization that builds power with Arizona’s working families to advance social, racial and economic justice for all.”
“We’re feeling really proud and we’re feeling really happy to know that Democracy spoke, and people spoke up,” she said. “Right now, there’s a sense of shock, a sense of happiness, a sense of what now?”
Maldonado was born in California to undocumented immigrants from Mexico. She lives in Phoenix now and has spent the morning reflecting on what the Biden-Harris win means for her country, community, family and child.
“As a woman of color myself, daughter of immigrants, it just shows this is what this country was founded on, it was founded on immigrants,” she said. “It was founded on people believing that we deserved a better opportunity and a better chance. And having someone like Kamala Harris now in office is going to create more of a sense of hope that this is the America that really represents us all, not just one specific community, but it represents a diverse community that comes from different backgrounds.”
Flor Lara, a 36-year-old Latina woman, said the representation Kamala Harris brings to the White House as a woman of color is “heartening and relieving to see.”
“It’s surreal. She is now a living, breathing example that if you want it, you can do it,” Lara said. “I am excited for what that looks like in terms of progressing in our politics. Being good at heart matters and she will show us the way forward.”
Trump’s “denial of facts” cost him America’s trust, according to Fredda Campbell. The 66-year-old was “overjoyed to see that Joe Biden will be in the White House.”
“I did not care for Trump’s personality or the way he lied about things and didn’t treat COVID-19 right,” Campbell said. “I think we deserve better, women deserve better, our older generation who suffered so many losses from this virus deserves better and Joe Biden will be much, much better.”