EXCLUSIVE: Terán secures coveted endorsement from youth climate group

EXCLUSIVE: Terán secures coveted endorsement from youth climate group

First Lady Jill Biden cheers with candidate for US Congress Raquel Terán during a 2022 campaign event for US Sen. Mark Kelly in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

By Camaron Stevenson

July 3, 2024

A powerful climate action group with a proven track record of turning out young voters is throwing its weight in a heated Arizona congressional primary.

Congressional candidate Raquel Terán has secured the endorsement of the Sunrise Movement, a national climate action organization with chapters in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson. The endorsement, reported exclusively by The Copper Courier, comes the same day early voting begins in the July primary election.

“As Arizonans face increasingly deadly heat each year, we need leaders like Raquel Terán who are willing to take on the oil and gas lobby, and fight for a Green New Deal,” said Ashton Dolce, one of the leaders for Sunrise Phoenix. “Extreme heat is killing hundreds of Phoenix residents every summer; we need a community organizer who will protect our communities and fight for us in Congress.”

Grassroots backing

The endorsement comes with significant backing: both national and local groups have committed to invest heavily in voter outreach efforts, and expect to contact over 10,000 voters by July 30. Other organizations that have pledged similar support for Terán include the Working Families Party, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), and Indivisible.

Sunrise’s efforts focus largely on younger voters, who are more likely to list climate as a top issue. In 2020, the organization claimed to reach over 4 million voters through a combination of phone calls, texts, and postcards. Their efforts did not go unnoticed, and Sunrise leaders were credited for influencing the Biden-Harris administration’s climate policy—including the Inflation Reduction Act—and are regularly praised and given a seat at the table by White House officials.

“It’s exciting to help elect a fellow organizer who will fight for policies like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and more,” said Tyler Velarde-Day, an organizer with Sunrise Tempe. “As a young organizer, it is inspiring to help elect one of our own to support the policies and push for new legislation at the federal level.”

Climate takes center stage

Climate is a major issue in the CD3 race, a Democratic stronghold currently represented by US Rep. Ruben Gallego. Yassamin Ansari, the former Phoenix City Council member running against Terán, has long positioned herself as the premier climate candidate. Ansari was a climate advisor for the United Nations when the Paris Climate Agreement was crafted in 2015, and pushed for investments in clean energy and reduced carbon emissions during her three years on the City Council.

But Ansari has stopped short of adopting the Green New Deal, a proposal supported by Sunrise that centers economic policy around addressing climate change. It’s seen as a litmus test of sorts for progressives in US Congress—one that Ansari failed and Terán passed.

That, coupled with her successes both in the state Legislature and as chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, was a deciding factor in who Sunrise would endorse, according to Stevie O’Hanlon, communications director for the national organization.

“Raquel has a proven record of standing up for working people, taking on the rich and powerful, and winning. She has fought for legislation to expand access to healthcare, protect abortion rights, and stop climate change,” said O’Hanlon. “We need more people like her in Congress who are willing to stand up to the oil and gas lobby, and fight for a Green New Deal.”


  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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