“The business community is beginning to understand the importance of investing in relationships on the Democratic side of the aisle,” said Joe Wolf, a Democratic political consultant and spokesman for Arizona Integrity PAC. The political action committee is funded by a group of business executives known as Greater Phoenix Leadership as well as Realtors, Arizona Public Service and Southwest Gas.
With Democrats possibly poised to take power, he said, businesses want allies who will hear them out. It’s not ideological, Wolf said. Rather, they’re backing candidates who are “willing to work with folks, listen to all sides and have an open-door policy.”
It’s a strategy that’s worked for businesses in other states where Democrats hold power. In California, a group of business-backed moderate Democrats routinely frustrate their more progressive colleagues on a range of issues from climate change to labor laws to tax increases.
Arizona Integrity PAC has reported spending at least $150,000 backing Daniel Hernandez and Alma Hernandez, moderate incumbents from Tucson, who are siblings, and Debbie Nez-Manuel, a political newcomer who’s running against a slate of progressives in Tempe.
Neither Hernandez responded to requests for comment. Nez-Manuel said she doesn’t know who the donors are or what they want.
“I don’t call myself progressive, moderate or whatever political term is out there,” she said.