The Daily Agenda: A county that's not Maricopa
Not a great day for incumbents ... Except for Kathy Hoffman ... And Cheerios make a house a home.
With the state’s biggest race still up in the air, it’s hard to draw any sharp conclusions about primary day.
But one thing’s for sure: We’re going to hear a lot about Pinal County in the coming days. The county ran out of ballots1 in Republican stronghold areas like Saddlebrooke, Apache Junction, San Tan Valley and Casa Grande, and Kari Lake is already threatening to sue. The county pinned the problem on an “unprecedented demand for in-person ballots.”
Lake took the novel approach of declaring victory last night while trailing Karrin Taylor Robson by about 8 percentage points. But Lake will probably pull it off. Everyone knew Robson would be up on election night — that’s when we see results mostly from early voters. Lake’s voters showed up on Election Day. She continued to climb as election officials continued to count votes, and as of about 1 a.m., Lake had taken a narrow lead.
Meanwhile, she threatened to send a “team of lawyers” down to Pinal County to litigate the election snafu.
The Arizona Republican Party and the Republican National Committee trained their sights squarely on the county, calling for the new2 election director to resign. This, of course, is not the first major mistake in Pinal County this election cycle.
Without knowing whether or how many people were actually unable to vote because of the ballot shortage, it’s impossible to say how serious a problem it really was and whether it will tip the governor’s race (or any other races).
But considering Lake’s utter disregard for reality, it won’t really matter. If she ultimately wins the nomination, expect her to point to Pinal County’s error as proof of our dirty rotten elections. If she loses, we’ll be talking about Pinal County 2022 for as long as we talked about Arizona 2020.
But the Republican primary for governor was far from the only undecided race as of whatever time we finally nodded off while writing this email:
We still don’t know who will face election-denying conspiracy theorist and spray tan aficionado Mark Finchem in the secretary of state’s race, though Adrian Fontes holds a few-point lead over Reginald Bolding in the Democratic primary.
The Trump-endorsed candidate for AG, Abe Hamadeh, is in the lead as well, but it’s not called just yet.
Lots of legislative races could switch leaders still, including Arizona Sen. Vince Leach, who's behind QAnon candidate Justine Wadsack, just barely, but who hails from Saddlebrooke, which ran out of ballots.
Blake Masters predictably defeated Jim Lamon in the race for U.S. Senate, clearly buoyed by the late Trump endorsement. But the most surprising victory of the night, at least to us, was Tom Horne running away with the GOP race for state superintendent, a gift to Democrat Kathy Hoffman.
In the Legislature, Mega MAGA Mania has clearly taken hold, as Donald Trump’s slate for the Arizona Senate handily defeated their opponents. David Farnsworth easily pummeled Rusty Bowers, ending his national tour defending democracy for the House Speaker. Tyler Pace got crushed by Trump-endorsed Robert Scantlebury. Trump-backed Janae Shamp easily dispatched “RINO disaster” Joanne Osborne. And Wendy Rogers is handily leading Kelly Townsend (though Townsend hails from the Pinal County part of the district and is not conceding the race).
They’ll be joined by a whole host of new election deniers, including Liz Harris and Alex Kolodin, who are on the path to winning seats after winning their primaries in Republican heavy districts. Former lawmaker Anthony Kern, last spotted lawyering up after attending the Jan. 6 riot, easily won a seat in the Senate after being the only legislative Republican incumbent to lose in 2020 (he doesn’t even face a Democrat in November). Meanwhile, a lot of the cooler heads in the Republican caucus are leaving the Capitol. We won’t have Republican Sen. Paul Boyer to stand up for common sense and sanity anymore, for example.
And we’re seeing the resurgence of a number of zombie lawmakers who are on their way to a comeback (with all the baggage they bring with them): Catherine Miranda, Lydia Hernandez, Ken Bennett and Kern for state Senate; and Steve Montenegro, Laurin Hendrix and Maria Syms for House are all leading their races. Darin Mitchell, though, doesn’t seem like he’ll pull through.
Some legislative incumbents were down on Tuesday night: Sarah Liguori, Joanne Osborne, Cesar Chavez, Judy Burges, Lorenzo Sierra, Joel John, Morgan Abraham, Richard Andrade, John Fillmore, Christian Solorio Acuña. Redistricting plays a role here — incumbents have to introduce themselves to lots of new voters every 10 years, so incumbency isn’t quite the boon it would be otherwise. Several of these races are still close enough to flip winners, though, as votes keep getting tallied.
At the county level, appointees won the day. Maricopa County Supervisor Tom Galvin, appointed to the seat, is well ahead of his challengers, bucking a trend of MAGA insurgents that seems to have taken hold for other races. Rachel Mitchell, appointed as county attorney, is in the lead in her race.
America’s former sheriff Joe Arpaio, eager for a return to power of any kind, likely won’t be the next mayor of Fountain Hills. He’s trailing current mayor Ginny Dickey.
On Election Day, Hank worked the polls, while Rachel drove around and did some journalism. In Maricopa County, it was a smooth, quiet day for most voters. But the primary election is just the calm before the storm.
As election season hits full swing, rest assured that we’ll be here to break it all down for you. Help keep us in business by clicking the subscribe button below!
What’s a little treason among friends?: AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward and Arizona Sen. Kelly Townsend thought the fake electors plan could be “seen as treason,” the New York Times reports. Ward, for her part, went through with it anyway, but Townsend didn’t become a fake elector. The Times cites emails from a Trump campaign lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, who said “Ward and Townsend are concerned it could appear treasonous for the AZ electors to vote on Monday if there is no pending court proceeding that might, eventually, lead to the electors being ratified as the legitimate ones.” Ward and Townsend were both subpoenaed by the Department of Justice related to the fake electors, which is also being investigated as part of the Jan. 6 committee’s work.
Stop the Steal!: Some people who voted at the polls yesterday took the Pentel pens the county directed voters to use with them after they cast a ballot. Gail Golec, a far-right Republican vying for Maricopa County supervisor, directed her followers to steal the Pentel pens and replace them with ink pens, which led the county attorney’s office to send a letter to Golec reminding her that “theft of any sort is unlawful.” County Attorney Rachel Mitchell’s office told Golec that telling people to take pens wasn’t just stealing, but “a deliberate attempt to interfere” with elections.
The AZ - abc15 - Data Guru @Garrett_ArcherA source at the county tells me that people are stealing the Pentel pens given out to election day voters to mark the ballot and replacing them with ballpoint.
Yay or nay: After Joe Manchin struck a deal with Chuck Schumer on a massive climate and tax deal, U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is facing pressures to kill the plan, a not-unfamiliar position for Arizona’s senior senator. Republicans, of course, want to see Sinema strike it down, but for Democrats, it’d be another example of betrayal to her party, NBC News reports.
Local man votes: Gov. Doug Ducey, who endorsed candidates who aren’t vehement election deniers, told Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer that people attempting to cast doubt on our elections are lying to voters. The governor cast his early ballot by dropping it off on Election Day, which is perfectly legal but a logistical headache for officials because it takes longer to count. He said he likes to go in person to see everyone and thank them, plus he likes to see the election play out before filling out his ballot.
Old election news: Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants to be able to file criminal charges against Petition Partners, a signature-gathering firm that ran petitions for Prop 208, Fischer reports. Petition Partners didn’t pay its gatherers per-signature because state law now prohibits that, but Brnovich alleges that the firm’s bonus programs and incentives weren’t allowed under law.
There are laws after all: The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office is now investigating whether Turning Point Action, an offshoot of the right-wing organization, has violated campaign finance laws by illegally coordinating with candidates, the Republic’s Richard Ruelas reports. Republican politico Tyler Montague previously filed a complaint about the group’s rallies, then filed another complaint spurred by Ruelas’ recent reporting.
Follow your own rules: Border Patrol agents are forcing Sikh men to discard their turbans, one of the tenets of their religion, when crossing into the U.S., Arizona Luminaria’s John Washington reports. The men, fleeing persecution in India and seeking asylum in the U.S., shouldn’t be required to remove their turbans under Border Patrol policy and religious freedom protections, advocates argue.
The thrill is gone: Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller laments the loss of Election Day excitement, which dwindled with the widespread use of mail-in ballots but eroded much further because of the “deep suspicion, fear and rage that characterize American politics now.” Steller talked to voters who were wary of one another while being worried about the state of the country, regardless of which side they were on.
Maricopa Cty Candidate for Supervisor Gail Golec @GailGolec#AmericaFirst Maricopa County Supervisor Candidate @GailGolec continues to expose the corruption, crimes and maladministration in this video regarding former AZ Senate President @FannKfann . #VoteForGolec @maricopacounty @SonnyBorrelli https://t.co/amNcJi1Iun
Messi, like “messy”?: The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to allow the county sheriff to donate a police dog named Messi, which the department called an “unusable capital asset,” to the Yuma police, where the Belgian Malinois could maybe be trained out of some antisocial behaviors, the Green Valley News reports.
“We purchased the dog about a year and a half ago and tested it out, fine. It’s basically bitten our handlers four times. They have attempted to train that out of it, and it has not worked,” Lt. Robert Krygier said.
Cutting a rug is illegal: Queen Creek’s town codes apparently prohibit dancing at bars and restaurants, but the city is moving to change that, the Queen Creek Tribune’s Josh Ortega writes.
We recommend us: To read all about the growth of local newsletters, check out this Poynter piece from journalist Elizabeth Djinis, where we’re quoted about being scared to be our own bosses and surprised that our newsletter actually makes money. The other outlets featured in the story are mostly national organizations with local outposts, but our tiny newsroom is strictly local — just two longtime local journalists (Rachel and Hank) who write this thing every day.
Kevin Robinson, who’s running for Phoenix City Council, admits he’s renting a house in Ahwatukee so he can qualify to run for the council seat in that part of town, but one of his opponents for the seat is suing him over residency requirements, KJZZ’s Christina Estes reports.
That’s not the funny part. It’s that he apparently rents from a supporter of his challenger, Moses Sanchez, and says he tries to evade the home security cameras because of it. And this gem of a sentence:
“Robinson provided photos of clothes in a bedroom closet, toiletries in a bathroom and milk and Cheerios in the kitchen to show he lives there.”
That really takes us back to the days of Darin Mitchell and the bare mattress that nobody believed he slept on. (Though a surprising number of men do not keep clean sheets on their beds. It’s an epidemic!)
Score one for vote centers, which allow counties to print ballots on demand, rather than having to stock them at every precinct-level polling place. Pinal is one of only two counties in the state that don’t use the vote centers, which could have prevented yesterday’s problems.