A Democrat running against an LGBTQ+ Caucus member has a history of promoting far-right Republicans

Leaked images show that Mario Garcia, who is running for a Senate seat to represent Maryvale and Glendale, has shared online posts and photos from candidates such as Kari Lake and Gary Snyder.

A Democrat running against an  LGBTQ+ Caucus member has a history of promoting far-right Republicans
Two Democrats are competing on July 30 for a Senate seat in West Phoenix. But one of them has some questionable affiliations. (Image by LOOKOUT)

On July 30, voters in west Phoenix and Glendale will be tasked with choosing between two Democrats that—on paper—appear to complement one another. 

Democratic Rep. Analise Ortiz, a member of the LGBTQ+ Legislative Caucus, is running a progressive campaign of housing and criminal justice reform, education, and civil rights to move from one of the House seats in the West Valley’s Legislative District 24 to its Senate seat. Her opponent in the Democratic primary, Mario Garcia, is also platforming the same causes, such as women’s rights and access to healthcare. 

But screenshots and social media messages sent to LOOKOUT and the Arizona Agenda show that Garcia has a history of promoting far-right conservative candidates.

The news organizations ran the images through an online detection software that indicates if an image was manipulated through photo-editing software or artificial intelligence. The images appear to be real. 

In the screenshots provided, Garcia shared multiple Facebook posts from Kari Lake, the far-right candidate who was then running for governor. The posts Garcia shared included favorable articles written about Lake, endorsements, and promoting her popularity among Latino voters. He also shared an announcement about Lake’s “Faith and Family Fest,” held in September before the 2022 election.

Garcia didn’t respond to questions about the photos or his alignment with Lake and other far-right candidates, instead directing questions to his campaign director, Patrick Morales, who only responded via email. Morales said Garcia “recently became a citizen and is committed to representing his constituents if elected.”

“Claims that I support Kari Lake and am a secret Republican are unequivocally false,” Garcia said in a written statement that Morales sent. “I met Kari Lake at a business conference with hundreds of other attendees. I've lived in this community for 17 years and have known her as a TV anchor. I do not support Kari Lake or endorse her campaign. I support Ruben Gallego for the Senate seat entirely. Merely posing for a photo does not align me with her extremism.”

But a Republican lawmaker confirmed that the event that Garcia was pictured at with Lake was not a business convention, but a "legislative event" specifically for Republicans.

Mario Garcia (left), a Democratic legislative candidate for West Phoenix and Glendale, pictured with Kari Lake (right). Garcia has said this photo was taken at a "business convention." A Republican lawmaker confirmed it was a "legislative event" for Republicans.

Garcia’s two Facebook pages no longer have the shared posts on them, and the photo with Lake has also been removed. 

But it’s not just Lake he appears to support. In screenshots from his Instagram account that were also given to LOOKOUT and the Agenda, Garcia was seen standing next to and holding up a campaign sign for Gary Snyder, a Republican running this year to represent Legislative District 25, which stretches from Yuma to the West Valley, in the House.  Snyder has reposted speeches from Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers and photos with Republican Congressman Paul Gosar on his social media, writing of Gosar that the two “think alike.” 

Rogers is a far-right state Senator who called for people to file false reports of child abuse against parents with the state Department of Child Safety if they took their kids to a drag show in Flagstaff last year. Gosar has a long history of aligning with white supremacists.

Mario Garcia posing and holding up a sign for Gary Snyder, a Republican candidate for Yuma and the West Valley who said that him and Republican Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar "think alike." Gosar aligns himself with white supremacist groups.

Garcia’s campaign manager said he has no connection with extremist Republicans, “unlike his current opponent who has promoted working with extreme republicans, such as Rep. Alexander Kolodin who is ‘unequivocally pro-life and was proud to be named one of the five most significant threats to Arizona Democrats’ pro-abortion agenda by NARAL Pro-Choice America.’”

The photo with Snyder has also been removed from the Instagram account. 

Garcia appears to be a long shot of a candidate, with little name recognition.

But in March, he secured the required number of signatures in the region to get on the ballot. In a one-on-one conversation with the Agenda, Ortiz alluded that the signatures were bought and not organically gathered through knocking on doors. Neither the Agenda nor LOOKOUT has been able to confirm Ortiz’s allegations. 

Garcia hasn’t filed his required April 15 campaign finance report, and his latest filing, from February, shows he has no money in his campaign account. But Garcia claimed in a phone call with LOOKOUT that he had $120,000 in campaign funds— which would be more than double what Ortiz’s campaign has in the bank, according to the latest round of campaign finance reports. 

If true, that would be an extraordinary feat, and a hefty war chest for a state Senate run in a noncompetitive district. 

When asked why he hasn’t filed his required campaign finance report, Garcia again deferred to Morales, who wrote in a statement that $120,000 was a “goal of pledged donations from friends and family.”

“His report will be filed soon. He was out of town for work, so there was a delay in getting it turned in on the 15th,” Morales wrote.

In 2022, Morales managed campaigns for two progressive Phoenix Democrats running for the state House:  Oscar De Los Santos and Patty Contreras, both of whom are also members of the LGBTQ+ Legislative Caucus.

“Voters deserve transparency,” Ortiz said in a text exchange with LOOKOUT. “They should know who is funding candidates’ pocketbooks. The fact that he did not file a finance report shows he does not value the importance of transparency and is deeply concerning to me. It should be deeply concerning to any voter of Legislative District 24 as well. If he’s willing to hide who is funding him, what else is he willing to hide?”


An earlier version of this article stated that the picture taken between Mario Garcia and Kari Lake might have been at a GOP fundraiser advertised at State 48 Brewery in August, 2022. It was, in fact, a "legislative event" for Republicans held at the same brewery, according to a Republican lawmaker who attended.

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