/ Modified nov 15, 2016 10:20 a.m.

Arizona Democrats Seeking Roadmap for the Future

The party is hoping to regroup after what it sees as a surprise loss.

Your Vote 2016 Elections spot AZPM provides in-depth local and national coverage of the 2016 elections.

Arizona Democrats are working to understand if the glass is half empty or half full. On one hand, their presidential candidate lost in what many have called an upset. On the other hand, in Arizona, Election Day wasn’t all bad.

The party retained control of the 1st Congressional District, picked up seats in the Legislature and ousted Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They also had, for Democrats in Arizona, close races for U.S. Senate and president.

Andy Barr, a Democratic consultant based in Phoenix, said all of that was accomplished without much help from the national party.

“I think the lesson here is we need to build our own assets and our own infrastructure. And we can’t count on national Democrats – who, frankly, don’t know what they are doing,” said Barr.

On Election Night, Matt Heinz, Democratic candidate in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, complained he was outspent because national Democrats never showed up.

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva was one of the Democratic winners for Arizona, facing only write-in opposition last week. It is time for Democrats to do some “soul-searching,” he said.

“For Democrats it is about finding, re-establishing our identity more than a renewal. Who are we, what do we represent and what are we trying to represent? I think we lost touch with that because we have been too worried just about winning elections and not building up towards that win,” said Grijalva.

He also cautioned Democrats not to spend too much time on introspection, as the 2018 midterm elections are quickly approaching. The party needs to look at not only internal organization but also whom it recruits as candidates, he said.

Barr agreed now is the time to think about the future but not wait too long. In Arizona, he pointed out, 2018 is a gubernatorial election year.

“If you are a Democrat looking to take on Doug Ducey, I don’t think there is any advantage to waiting. You have to put together so much money. You have to build so much infrastructure – data, all sorts of other things,” Barr said.

“Ducey is going to be hard under any scenario - whether Donald Trump is viewed as popular two years from now or Trump has an approval rating in the teens two years from now.”

The state and national parties will both hold leadership elections in the coming weeks.

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