Danny “DJ” Morales considers voters in Congressional District 2 to be his family. Given that the district spans more than 7,800 square miles, two counties and more than 390,000 registered voters, it’s safe to say that’s a big family to take care of.
Morales was born and raised in Douglas until the age of 12, and after attending middle and high school in Massachusetts, he returned to his hometown to start serving the community.
He graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in biochemistry. Then he joined the Navy in Tucson in 1998 and served 12 years in active duty. After that, he won a 2016 campaign for Douglas City Council in Ward 1. In August of that same year, Morales was appointed to Vice Mayor. He’s the only Republican running for the Congressional District 2 seat with any experience as an elected official.
Morales said his ward includes the southern-most portion of Douglas. This area includes the US/Mexico border, which is a quick three blocks away from his house. He also lives just five blocks away from the Port of Entry.
During his time as a member of the Douglas City Council, Morales said he helped pass the largest tax-incentive program in Douglas and a major city street improvement program. He also helped establish the city’s first youth council and the first recreational lake.
“I’ve already been representing the interests of CD2 constituents, and doing so with what I believe is a good record of service,” he said.
Morales said he’s lost count of how many candidate forums he’s been to since he launched this campaign to replace Congresswoman Martha McSally, who is giving up the seat to run for U.S. Senate this year. He officially filed for candidacy with the Federal Elections Commission on Feb. 15. After meeting with constituents for the last four months, he said the main issues of concern in CD2 are border security and jobs.
So if elected, Morales wants to support the state’s current military and Raytheon operations and expand them to bring in more high-skilled jobs. Referencing high employment opportunities in aerospace, Morales said he would even support the president’s push for a sixth military branch, the “space corps,” and try to land those operations in Arizona.
He also wants to support new agricultural and biotechnology projects to “support our farmers,” as he put it. However, it’s unclear how he would be able to provide funding for military, agriculture and infrastructure, especially when he wants to balance the federal budget.
Like most Republicans, Morales wants to “cut the fat” out of the federal budget. He calls for an end to pet projects and entitlement programs. With these cuts and his anticipation of more tax revenue in the future, he believes balancing the budget is possible.
Even with the goal of balancing the budget, Morales supports President Trump’s border wall plans because he believes it would make a difference at the local level.
“When I was dating my wife, we used to run into large groups of illegals,” he said. “Since the [security] installments back in 1998 and 2012, we’ve seen a reduction, not only anecdotally, but we’ve seen it in the stats as well.”
Morales ties this reduction in illegal immigrants to the decreased crime rate in Douglas. After already living adjacent to the border itself, Morales said he gained even more first-hand knowledge in border operations after he paroled there as a reserve deputy for Cochise County. He says he knows the border better than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat.
When asked about his opinion regarding family separations at the border, Morales said the families who are being separated are breaking the law. He said during his time in law enforcement, he separated families by orders of the Department of Child Safety, so family separation is nothing new.
If elected, Morales hopes to streamline immigration and trade operations via federal Port of Entry projects that would modernize the process.
“When President Trump and Vice President Pence see me, they’ll [think] ‘Hey that’s the Port of Entry guy,’” he said. “I want to see it sooner rather than later. There’s billions of dollars worth of binational trade that comes through here, just five blocks away from my house.”
In a primary race full of newcomers, Morales is confident about his campaign’s progress so far.
“It’s great to know that my hometown, which I’ve been a servant in, has my back regardless of my party affiliation,” he said. “It’s because they know my heart, they know my family, they know my record of service here at the local level.”