Arizona State Sen. Juan Mendez, one of only a handful of openly atheist state senators in the country, has comfortably won his (competitive) primary against a more moderate Democrat.
Given the “bright blue” nature of his district, there’s reason to be optimistic about November. If he wins, it would be his third term as state senator, following two terms as a state representative.
Besides being a progressive legislator, Mendez is known to atheists for his history of delivering invocations in the legislature… or at least trying to. In 2013 he delivered one in the State House, but the following day, a Christian colleague delivered a second religious invocation to make up for his godless one. When he tried to give another invocation in 2016, the GOP majority leader blocked him from doing so on the grounds that all invocations had to be made to a “higher power.” Days later, when Mendez gave his invocation anyway, a minister was on standby to deliver a “real” one.
Earlier this year, Mendez was slated to give an invocation on “Secular Day” at the Capitol. But just before he spoke, the (Republican) Senate President said someone else would be doing the honors. She later said it was a mistake, but the other senator had an invocation ready to go…
These are relatively minor issues in the grand scheme of things. Like I said, Mendez has been a strong progressive lawmaker, even sponsoring a bill that calls for the repeal of the death penalty.
Along with fellow atheist State Rep. Athena Salman and candidate Melody Hernandez, Mendez has campaigned as part of a publicly-funded Millennial “Clean Elections” team that rejects dirty money. (If all three win their seats, theirs would be the only district in Arizona represented entirely by Millennials.) Mendez is also endorsed by the Freethought Equality Fund PAC.
You can volunteer for his campaign here.