By Dennis Nuxoll, Jonathan Sarager and Stephanie Metzinger
When Washington, D.C., greeted the 116th Congress in January, it welcomed a new slate of Arizona Capitol Hill delegates, who represent a shift in the state’s political landscape.
Ann Kirkpatrick and Greg Stanton were added to Arizona’s nine-member contingent in the U.S. House of Representatives, flipping the 5-4 majority from Republican to now Democrat. This is the first time there has been a majority Democratic Arizona House delegation in half a century.
Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally are making the jump to the Senate as the two newest seat holders for the state. Arizona previously has never had a female senator; now it will have two.
While this cadre of lawmakers potentially signals a new political era for Arizona, it may also put the state in a better position to represent those in agriculture.
Here are the four Congressional freshman to watch this term.
U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-Ariz.)
McSally replaced U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, who was appointed to the Senate in September 2018, filling the seat of the late John McCain.
She sits on the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, as well as the Armed Services Committee. Additionally, she sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where she may play a significant role in decisions relating to water and environmental issues that affect Western Growers (WG) members. This includes potential regulatory changes to the Endangered Species Act to make the 1973 law more effective in achieving its intent while remaining workable for all affected stakeholders.
“Farmers and ranchers play a huge role in Arizona’s economy,” said Senator McSally. “As our U.S. senator, I will continue advocating for farm country and work to protect the long, vibrant legacy it holds in our great state.”
U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
Balancing out the Senate is Sinema. Sinema defeated McSally in the November 6 general election to replace Republican Jeff Flake, who retired. She is the first Democrat to win a Senate election in Arizona in 30 years.
“Supporting Arizona farmers and ranchers is crucial for our state’s economy, and we’ll continue making sure Washington dysfunction doesn’t stand in the way of their success,” said Senator Sinema. “We are working across the aisle in the Senate to secure our state’s water future and protect our producers from harmful tariffs.”
She currently is on the following committee assignments: Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Veterans’ Affairs; and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Sinema has been an advocate of implementing commonsense solutions to fix the broken immigration system. Though her focus lies on border security and protecting DREAMers, she has been vocal about Washington’s failure to act on immigration and its effect on Arizona’s economy and communities.
Both Sinema and McSally met with the WG Board of Directors last May in D.C. to speak about key issues such as trade and the need for immigration reform.
U.S. Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.-02)
Kirkpatrick is a new face in the 116th Congress, but she previously represented Arizona’s 1st District from 2009 to 2011 and from 2013 to 2017. She lost her Senate bid to then-incumbent Republican John McCain in the 2016 election. Running again in the 2018 election, she won her race and now serves as the U.S. Representative for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.
Kirkpatrick serves on the Committee on Appropriations, and more importantly for WG members, the House Agriculture Committee. She will be part of the collective team that helps shape the future of farm policy in the United States. This includes finding innovative ways to address the needs of the industry as they relate to issues such as renewable energy, nutrition, crop insurance, conservation, international trade, futures market regulation, and agricultural research and development.
U.S. Representative Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.-09)
When Sinema launched her Senate bid, Stanton ran for her open House seat and defeated Republican Steve Ferrara. Prior to his congressional career, he served as mayor of Phoenix for six years. Stanton now represents Arizona’s 9th District, which includes parts of Phoenix and surrounding suburbs.
Serving on the Judiciary House Committee and Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Stanton will have a hand in aspects of our national infrastructure as well as civil justice, immigration and administrative law.