Last summer, I spent over two months working for Dr. Hiral Tipirneni’s Congressional campaign. I saw her speak at a small house party in my hometown and was immediately energized and provided with an optimistic expectation for the midterm election. The group of people gathered in that home were individuals I would have never expected to vote anywhere near blue. Dr. Tipirneni spoke in regards to healthcare, education, and other issues that struck Arizonans right where it mattered.

In April of last year, I and thousands of other students didn’t go to school for about two weeks due to a teachers strike. Everyone is acutely aware of how poorly Phoenix teachers are paid and treated, so we all completely understood and expected the demonstration. What we did not expect was the apathy and, frankly, aggression that came out of state government leaders, especially the governor. For this reason, gubernatorial candidate David Garcia appeared as a beacon of hope for any AZ citizen with education as a primary concern. This bipartisanship provided me with the same sense of optimism I felt when I heard Dr. Tipirneni had won the majority of the votes of one of the most Republican towns in West Phoenix.

Dr. Tipirneni’s opposition, Debbie Lesko, had already broke many of her campaign promises in just three months of work in Washington. Her supporters had vandalized Hiral’s signs, adding “fake doctor” with an arrow pointing to her photo, and had generally just engaged in what appeared to be more slander than substance. Though this proved to be frustrating at times, it also provided a sense of relief because Hiral just appeared to be a more logical and unifying figure-- exactly what the Arizona political climate needed.

Hearing the news that Dr. Tipirneni was defeated by Lesko contradicted all of the rallying and optimism that I felt to my core working the last few months in Arizona. A similar reaction was evoked seeing Doug Ducey win governor seat despite tens and thousand of students and educators standing behind Garcia.

For one of the first times in this area’s history, Arizona voters across party lines could (and were) standing behind progressive, grassroots, non-corrupt candidates. And that simply wasn’t enough. So, where do we go from here?

Fortunately, Arizona is not representative of the history that was made across the nation Wednesday night. The House is blue. Massachusetts has its first African American Congresswoman. A 29 year-old Latinx defeated a ten-term incumbent. Two Native American women were election to Congress.

Youth still came out in remarkable numbers, and so did women, and so did women of color. Progress was made and that cannot be downplayed. The fact that this country still has a long way to go does not diminish the progress that was made, but it should clearly show individuals and voters (especially in states like Arizona) that participating on November 6th simply isn’t enough, and it’s not going to be enough for a while. We need to have difficult conversations. We need to never stop voting, and vote in every single election. We need to stand for truth and unity. I thought the best way to conclude would be to just include Dr. Tipirneni’s statement regarding the election.

As a physician, I took an oath to do no harm, to heal the sick, and to care for everyone in the community. Although I may not be able to affect change now as the next Congresswoman for AZ-08, I promise to keep fighting for what is right. I am committed to working hard to help make our communities and our country a better place for all of our families.

I am beyond proud of the work we’ve accomplished together in the past year and a half.

We challenged the status-quo, gave a voice to hundreds of thousands of voters, and suggested realistic solutions for the serious problems our country faces.

We presented thoughtful, data-driven ideas of how we can, on a bipartisan basis, approach the issues of healthcare, education, immigration, economic opportunity, and so much more.

We declared that our representatives should work hard to earn our vote, and reminded them that no district should ever be taken for granted.  

Running to represent our district in Congress has been the honor of a lifetime. So many of you shared your remarkable personal stories of struggle and hope with me, stories that inspired and motivated me every single day.  I am humbled and honored by your faith and trust.

My family, my team, and I will forever be thankful for the gracious outpouring of support our campaign received, and there simply aren’t enough “thank yous” to go around.

This race, despite an unfavorable outcome, will have a ripple effect seen for years to come, in this district and beyond. I appreciate you standing by my side, and I couldn’t have done this without your partnership every step of the way. Your support has meant the world to me.

Thank you for everything you’ve done and will continue to do. There is much work that lies ahead of us as a nation. The mission to ensure our fellow Americans’ lives are healthy, happy, and prosperous remains a noble one, worthy of our daily collective effort.  

…so, for old time’s sake: Let’s do this!

Emily Blake