Former Sen. Raquel Teran was born on November 30, 1977, in Douglas, Arizona. She is married to Eddie Barron and has one son. She has been working for more than 15 years to organize local and state communities and promote equality.

Raquel Teran: Early Life and Activism

Teran was raised in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, and “literally grew up on the street that divides the United States and Mexico.” She comes from a community that did not fear immigration but celebrated it, inspired at a young age to ensure equity and freedom for all. She attended Arizona State University and quickly became involved in political organizations.

In an exclusive interview with uPolitics in 2021, Teran recounted her first experience campaigning for an activist group.

“I was connected to politics through a huge march that happened in 2006 against a bill that criminalized all immigrants,” she said. “I ended up at a volunteer table with Mi Familia Vota, which engages Latinos in the decision-making process. They gave me a clipboard and from that moment on, I knew if I wanted to change anything in the state of Arizona it had to be through building political power.”

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In 2011, Teran rallied Arizonians of all ages, races and political parties around an unprecedented goal: to remove former Sen. Russell Pearce from office. Pearce is known for introducing SB 1070, or the “Show Me Your Papers” law that allowed law enforcement agents to ask anyone for proof of legal immigration, and made it a misdemeanor crime to be caught without papers. She was credited for leading the effort, which marked her first real political experience.

Raquel Teran: Arizona State Legislature

In 2018, Teran was elected to the Arizona Legislature as a representative for the state’s 30th district. She was reelected twice, once as a senator for the same district and most recently as a senator for the 26th district, which includes Phoenix.

Upon being elected, Teran worked to protect statewide access to abortion and pro-immigration legislation. In the face of nationwide election fraud theories and instances of ballot tampering, Teran remained a staunch opponent of Republican motions to limit voting rights.

Teran told uPolitics that Arizona will continue to fight against far-right legislation.

“At this moment, we are not taking anything for granted. The [Republican] agenda is in full fruition at the state legislature. It is not only on democracy bills but is extreme when it comes to anti-choice bills, cutting taxes and even environmental issues,” she explained. “They want to take away powers from our Arizona Corporation Commission and give them to the state legislature, they want to incarcerate women and doctors who are involved in abortions. Republicans are trying to let us know where they stand and we are not taking anything for granted, we are debating every single bill that is getting through to the committee.”

Throughout her time in the state legislature, Teran never lost sight of her roots. She continues to fight for the LatinX community and encourages the Democratic Party to build strong relations with the population.

“I think the LatinX community really identifies with the Democratic party and values, but we also have to make sure that we aren’t taking the community for granted,” she said. “In my 15 years of organizing, I have repeatedly gotten the question or statement, ‘If Latinos would just come out and vote, Arizona would be a completely different state.’ My answer to that has always been that there is a real intentional relationship with the community, so we need to be present and loud about the issues that we are advocating for. There was a lot of conversation about why Trump was enamoring a portion of the LatinX communities, but I think most of the community still relates more with the Democratic party. We saw that with the win that they gave to President Biden.”

Raquel Teran: Arizona Democratic Party Chair

In 2021, Teran was named chair of the Arizona Democratic Party. She pushed Democratic agendas on health care, gun violence, climate change and immigration, and led the party through the chaotic 2020 election. President Joe Biden won the traditionally red state by just 0.3%, a testament to the Democrats’ efforts to promote their policies and values.

Teran broke down the “two infrastructures” that she believes led to Arizona Democrats’ success in this election.

“On one hand, we had the Arizona Democratic party, which had grown and been invested in because it comes down to resources and staying focused on the fact that we need to get Democrats elected,” she said. “At the same time, we have an infrastructure of community-based organizations that have been actively… engaging people who are not necessarily part of the decision-making process.”

“What we have done in the past that I think has really worked is focusing on competitive districts. That’s why the redistricting process was so important in 2010 because we had the space to focus on those competitive districts. It’s the moment for us to ensure that we are not only investing in these districts but that we are expanding.”

When asked what her advice would be to other state Democratic parties, she said that creating long-lasting change is key.

“Our advice is to embrace the movement-building that is happening because a lot of the movement-building organizations are leading on Democratic issues and values,” she explained. “Embrace that and continue the movement, figure out how you can partner as fast as possible. Within our own infrastructure, let’s make sure we are bringing in outside voices. We need to ensure that Democrats are part of the process. We can’t come in two months before Election Day, which is something we have done too many times. We need to continue the year-round, statewide organizing and it needs to be permanent.”

Raquel Teran: 2024 Congressional Bid

In April 2023, Teran announced her bid for Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District. She resigned from her position in the Arizona Senate in order to focus on her 2024 campaign.

“Last year, with democracy under assault, I brought out coalition together once again to reject GOP extremists like Kari Lake and elect a Democratic Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General for the first time in decades. That’s the power that we can harness when we come together with a vision of Arizona that includes all of us,” wrote Teran on her campaign website.

“I’ve spent my career organizing in our community for higher wages for our workers, affordable health care for our families, and better schools for our children,” she continued. “I’ve taken on far-right extremist bullies and won. And now I’m running to represent our community in Congress.”

Teran is seeking to fill Rep. Ruben Gallego’s (D-Arizona) seat. Gallego is running for the Senate seat held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic party last year. The district has historically favored Democrats, thus making for a crowded left field in the upcoming election.

Transcription: Arizona Democratic Party Chair Raquel Teran Is ‘Optimistic’ On Redistricting In Her State

EM: As you mentioned, Arizona has an independent redistricting commission. Are you confident that the independent commission will draw fair lines in this round?

RT: We’re happy and optimistic about the person who has been selected as the independent commissioner. We think we have strong democratic commissioners and what we learned in previous years is that we need to make sure we are part of the process. As lines are drawn, we want to make sure that they are fair and that we are actively participating in this process.

There is a challenge that the data won’t come to us until September, so that is something that we have to take into consideration. But the way that we have our independent district commission right now gives us hope that this is going to be a fair process. It will be on us to make sure that we continue to be engaged, but we’ll see when the data comes in. We are hoping that we will be able to act quickly.

EM: Is the Arizona seat likely to be a Democratic seat?

RT: I think it’s likely to be a Democratic seat. I believe that Latinos will have more representation.

Transcription: Arizona Democratic Party Chair Raquel Teran On How To Defeat GOP Voter Suppression Bills

EM: Arizona state legislature is considering a number of undemocratic voting reforms. Can you run through what they are and then tell us what the Democratic party of Arizona is doing to fight the efforts?

RT: In Arizona, we are seeing that the action is the reaction. One of our biggest tasks at the state legislature this year is to protect democracy. Both chambers have seen many bills that are ‘anti-democracy bills’, as we call them. They are really creating restrictions to accessing the ballot box, as well as accessing the initiative process.

In the Senate, we are seeing bills that would purge a person from the early voting list; if somebody doesn’t vote in a primary through the early ballot that they requested, they could get purged from the permanent early voting list. What we say is if you take the ‘p’ away from the permanent early voting list, it becomes the ‘evil,’ because we have been using this system to ensure that communities who don’t come out and vote have access to the ballot box, and their time and within the community. We are really tracking these bills that have anything to do with our permanent early voting list.

In the House, we have bills that are preempting any good legislation that has to do with democracy, for instance, automatic voter registration or same-day voter registration. Just yesterday, we were on the floor debating these bills, which would prohibit private same-day voter registration and automatic voter registration. That’s not something that we do here in the state of Arizona, but the Republicans know that once we have this mechanism and modernize our election systems, more people are going to register and come out to vote. What we’ve seen is that, when we have more access to the ballot box, it’s healthy for everybody and they know it. It’s unfortunate that we are finding ourselves having to fight for democracy when we have so much happening in our communities.

We have yet to execute a good, strategic plan when it comes to Covid-19 relief, testing or vaccinations. We’re focused instead on making it harder to vote

EM: Isn’t there a measure that would allow the state legislature to overturn the popular vote of the people in presidential elections?

RT: That’s correct, it’s a power grab! It would take the power from the voters of Arizona and give it to the state legislature, which would really invalidate voters’ voices. That is the type of work that we are fighting at the state legislature.

EM: Could that bill actually pass?

RT: At this moment, we are not taking anything for granted. The agenda is in full fruition at the state legislature. It is not only on democracy bills but is extreme when it comes to anti-choice bills, cutting taxes and even environmental issues. They want to take away powers from our Arizona Corporation Commission and give them to the state legislature. They want to incarcerate women and doctors who are involved in abortions. Republicans are trying to let us know where they stand and we are not taking anything for granted. We are debating every single bill that is getting through to the committee.

This week at the legislature, we had what we call ‘crossover week’ and we did see some of those bad bills come through the floor. Some of them have been stopped because there has been a lot of community power, but nothing is dead until the day the session ends. We are in fightback mode and, unfortunately, the governor does not take a position on many of these extreme bills, it’s like the best-kept secret in Arizona. Unless he wants to move forward on an issue, we don’t know where he stands. We remain vigilant, and we are working with our communities and partners on these progressive issues to make sure that they’re stopped, but we are in fightback mode.

Transcription: Arizona Democratic Chair Raquel Teran Explains Why Democrats Didn’t Do Better on Downballot Races

EM: Arizona did very well at the top of the ticket, as you know Joe Biden and Mark Kelly won. But at the bottom of the ticket, the Democrats did less well. They didn’t take either chamber of the state House or state Senate. What do you attribute that to and how will Arizona Democrats do better next time?

RT: Obviously, we would have liked to have taken over the House and the Senate and we did not see that. However, we were one of the first states to be able to keep our seats in the House and gain a seat in the Senate, so we are actually taking that as a victory. However, we know that we need to do more work. We still need to ensure that we are reaching out to our communities, I think the pandemic was a huge factor; a lot of these down-ballot races are won at the doors. We, as Democrats, took this pandemic seriously, as it needed to be taken, and unfortunately, did not have the ability to knock on as many doors, which is extremely important. But we did have a significant investment. With investment in these districts, we can come back the following year and get those seats.

Even though we are going to have a redistricting process happen, I’m optimistic that we have laid the foundation to get to a majority in 2022. We saw it in a few of the districts that we now consider blue or purple districts that we were able to flip during the last 10 years.

Transcription: Arizona Democratic Chair Raquel Teran On How Democrats Can Do Better With Latinos

EM: I know you come from roots of organizing within the Latino community, a lot of people were surprised that Trump did a little bit better among the Latinos in certain states. What would you attribute that to and how can Democrats speak more forcefully to the Latin community and energize them as a base for the Democrats?

RT: I think the LatinX community really identifies with the Democratic party and values, but we also have to make sure that we aren’t taking the community for granted. In my 15 years of organizing, I have repeatedly gotten the question or statement, ‘If Latinos would just come out and vote, Arizona would be a completely different state.’ My answer to that has always been that there is a real intentional relationship with the community, so we need to be present and loud about the issues that we are advocating for. There was a lot of conversation about why Trump was enamoring a portion of the LatinX communities, but I think most of the community still relates more with the Democratic party. We saw that with the win that they gave to President Biden.

Transcription: Arizona Democratic Party Chair Raquel Teran On What Other State Parties Can Learn From Her State

EM: You guys have done a lot of great stuff in Arizona, you’ve really promoted the Democratic party there. What advice do you have for other states in terms of what you’ve done right and what you’ve done wrong?

RT: The success in Arizona lies in our two infrastructures. One, we have the Arizona Democratic party, which had grown and been invested in because it comes down to resources and staying focused on the fact that we need to get Democrats elected. At the same time, we have an infrastructure of community-based organizations that have been actively organizing in our communities and engaging people who are not necessarily part of the decision-making process.

You have the Luchas, Mi Familia Vota, the One Arizona Table and Arizona Wins, and in addition, you have labor who is both part of the infrastructure of the party and the infrastructure in the table. It’s important to have a very intentional coalition; there are obviously legalities as to how these organizations and parties function, but we have to work together as much as possible.

What we have done in the past that I think has really worked is focusing on competitive districts. That’s why the redistricting process was so important in 2010 because we had the space to focus on those competitive districts. It’s the moment for us to ensure that we are not only investing in these districts but that we are expanding.

Our advice is to embrace the movement-building that is happening because a lot of the movement-building organizations are leading on Democratic issues and values. Embrace that and continue the movement, figure out how you can partner as fast as possible. Within our own infrastructure, let’s make sure we are bringing in outside voices. We need to ensure that Democrats are part of the process. We can’t come in two months before Election Day, which is something we have done too many times. We need to continue the year-round, statewide organizing and it needs to be permanent.

Transcription: Arizona Democratic Chair Raquel Teran Bio: How She Got Into Politics

EM: Tell us how you first got into politics.

RT: I’m originally from the border of Southern Arizona; I literally grew up on the street that divides the United States and Mexico. I remember there being a wire fence, which became bars and now, thanks to President Biden, the wall has stopped. Immigration was very natural in our community and when I started to see the anti-immigration sentiment gain momentum in the state of Arizona, I was moved to take action. I was connected to politics through a huge march that happened in 2006 against a bill that criminalized all immigrants. I ended up at a volunteer table with Mi Familia Vota, which engages Latinos in the decision-making process. They gave me a clipboard and from that moment on, I knew if I wanted to change anything in the state of Arizona it had to be through building political power. And now I’m here, as the Chair of the Democratic Party, as an elected official in the House of Representatives, and ready to make sure that we’re not fighting back, but that we really get a good agenda for our communities that will deliver equity. I’m very excited.

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