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The Daily Agenda: A long shot is better than no shot
You gotta get on the ballot one way or another ... He doesn't even know him! ... And tweets are occasionally funny.
It’ll be another week before counties actually certify their elections, but we can already announce most of the successful write-in candidates from the primary election.
We’ve previously said that Anthony Kern, a former lawmaker who was spotted at the Jan. 6 rally and the Arizona Senate audit of the 2020 election after losing his own election that year, faces no Democratic competition in the general election.
But that’s no longer true. After running a successful write-in campaign in the primary election, Democrat Brittani Barraza will square off against Kern. She needed fewer than 500 votes to qualify for the November ballot and got nearly 900, early county election results show.
Write-in campaigns may sound quixotic, but they’re a way for candidates to make a general election ballot if their party doesn’t have contenders during the primary.
If a write-in candidate’s party didn’t field any candidates in the primary, write-in candidates can still get on a general ballot if they get the same number of write-in votes in the primary as they would have needed in signatures to qualify for the ballot in the first place. In a statewide race, for example, that means thousands of votes. But in a legislative district, it can be as low as a couple of hundred.
And some candidates who started as primary election write-ins have gone on to win in November. Former House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer was first elected after running a write-in campaign in 2008. Former Republican Sen. Don Shooter, who was eventually expelled from the Legislature following a series of sexual harassment accusations, also won his first race after running as a write-in candidate in the primary.
But most don’t win. Their party likely didn’t field a candidate because the party doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning that seat — it’s almost always a “safe” seat for the opposing party.
We count at least nine legislative write-in candidates who have cleared the threshold needed to qualify for the November ballot (though several others are right at the cusp of the necessary minimum and could clear it as counting continues). It’s less clear if U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar will face a challenger in his northwest Arizona congressional district. His potential challenger, Democrat David Lucier, has picked up more than 1,000 write-in votes in Maricopa County out of the nearly 1,700 required, though the three other counties that the district spans haven’t reported their write-in totals yet.
In central Phoenix’s LD5, two Republicans, Jeff Silveyand Jennifer Treadwell, qualified for the House and Senate, respectively.
In Queen Creek’s LD15, Democratic Senate candidate Alan Smith received enough votes to move on to the general election ballot.
In Tucson’s LD21, Republican Jim Cleveland qualified for the Senate ballot, while Damien Kennedy and Deborah McEwen qualified for the House based on their performances in the GOP primary.
Democrat Don Kissinger qualified to run for the House alongside Barraza in the Peoria-based LD27.
And Democrat David Raymer qualified for the ballot in the far West Valley’s LD29.
While write-in candidates start at a disadvantage, lightning occasionally strikes. Democrats have their eyes on Kern, and while it’s unlikely he loses his campaign in his Republican stronghold of LD27, it was equally unlikely when he lost his 2020 re-election campaign in the same area to a Democrat. But it happened.
Now that the dust has settled on (almost) all of the primary races, we can announce the winner of our 2022 primary election prediction contest!
Thanks to the nearly 150 of you who played along. Most of you did pretty well. But there can only be one winner. (Luckily there was, in fact, one clear winner, considering the second place award is a six-way tie and we can’t afford to buy lunch for six people.)
The hardest race for y’all to predict was the same one that most shocked us: Tom Horne getting the nomination for his old job as superintendent of public instruction. For a short recap on why we never imagined he would win the nomination, see this tweet.
And the race that nearly all of you predicted correctly? Well, Katie Hobbs’ nomination to governor, of course.
But only one of you predicted enough races correctly to be the winner.
Without further ado, we’re pleased to announce that Connor Owen, who does finances at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, is the king of our primary prediction contest. He said he used his background in finance to look at campaign resources and how candidates chose to spend them, then he took an educated guess.
“I’d love to say it was solely based on who had more street signs and mailers,” he told us via email. “Most of the races y’all listed were going to be close enough where I just went with my gut or guessed lol.”
Owen narrowly beat out a host of political consultants who tied for the second-place slot, including Tony Cani, Chuck Coughlin, Will Gaona and Ben Scheel.
Help us afford to buy lunch for our winning reader by becoming a paid subscriber!
Not exactly besties: After receiving an endorsement from Andrew Torba, founder of the conspiracy-laden social media platform Gab, U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters rejected his support and said he’d “never heard of this guy,” prompting Torba to say Masters indeed knows him because they talked on Twitter Spaces, the Republic’s Tara Kavaler reports.
Mayor Pete comes to town: Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. transportation secretary and former presidential candidate, will be in Arizona on Thursday, stopping in both Tucson and Phoenix “to announce major local infrastructure investments” stemming from the federal infrastructure plan passed late last year.
Anyone got water to sell?: U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema visited the Hoover Dam on Monday to tout $4 billion that’s included in the Democrats’ climate and health care bill that passed the Senate last week. The money will go toward mitigating the effects of drought in the overallocated Colorado River system, the Republic’s Zayna Syed reports. Sinema required the drought money to approve of the bill, she said. The federal dollars will join a $1 billion state investment in water resources passed this year. Meanwhile, some Arizona tribes say they haven’t gotten a say in ongoing Colorado River negotiations happening now, telling the Interior Department they’ve been “largely in the dark about what is being discussed,” the Arizona Daily Star’s Tony Davis reports. The current negotiations are over potential cutbacks next year as water levels dwindle.
Dems need to cut more checks: The Republican Governors Association, which has pledged to spend at least $11 million on the Arizona governor’s race, gets its money from a host of corporations, Popular Information’s Judd Legum reports on the group’s backing of GOP nominee Kari Lake. The Democratic Governors Association, for its part, just sent $1.5 million to the Arizona Democratic Party to boost Dem nominee Katie Hobbs, 12News’ Brahm Resnik points out.
Happy birthday!: The U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into the Phoenix Police Department is a year old and still underway in five areas, including use of force and treatment of protestors, the Republic’s Chelsea Curtis notes. So far, the main thing we know about the investigation is that the city has spent about $2 million on it, to cover the cost of salaries, legal services and a system used to respond to document requests.
Money, money, money: Maricopa County jails don’t have enough staff to safely take care of people locked up, and the problem is getting worse, with high vacancy rates for staff and increasing numbers of people behind bars, the Phoenix New Times’ Katya Schwenk reports. In other criminal justice news, Phoenix Police are getting more applicants for officer jobs now that the city started paying higher salaries, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told KTAR.
A problem rarely discussed: Some cities in the East Valley used additional money to pay down their public safety pension debts, a major source of financial stress on cities throughout Arizona, though they still need more money to address the problem, the East Valley Tribune’s Paul Maryniak reports.
Hank will test your weed for free: An advisory council to the Arizona Department of Health Services told the department that it needs better rules for testing marijuana products in order to keep customers safe, recommending limits on the sizes of batches that can be tested at once, the Republic’s Ryan Randazzo reports.
Legislative District 4 used to be LD28, the most competitive district in Arizona slowly slipped from purple to blue over the last decade. This newly drawn district is considered competitive, but now favors Republicans.
The district runs from Paradise Valley and Scottsdale, bordered by State Route 51 on the west and State Route 101 on the east, taking in parts of the Arcadia neighborhood north of Indian School Road. Even with a Republican registration advantage, the area still voted for Joe Biden by a slim margin.
The Senate race features the only general election between two incumbents. For the Republicans, it’s Nancy Barto, the longtime lawmaker responsible for most of the state’s recent anti-abortion laws. On the Democratic side, it’s Christine Marsh, the former teacher of the year who defeated former Republican Sen. Kate Brophy McGee in 2020.
In the House race, former Rep. Maria Syms, who lost in 2018 after a battle between her, her husband and Brophy McGee, joins Matt Gress, Gov. Doug Ducey’s budget director, as the two Republicans hoping to win the open House seats, though Syms and Gress did not run as a slate. The sole Democrat, Laura Terech, is also a teacher. Syms and Barto are running together as a slate, as are Marsh and Terech, while Gress is standing alone.
Twitter is rarely fun anymore, but the FBI searching Mar-a-Lago provided some LOL-worthy tweets. Here are some of our faves.
Wild backstory: Phoenix bar owner and Democratic Rep. Mark DeSimone dropped out of his reelection race for what was then LD11 and resigned his seat following a domestic violence charge in the summer of 2008. That didn’t leave enough time for Democrats to circulate petitions to put someone on the ballot, so Democrats appointed Meyer to fill the seat, and he ran a write-in campaign in the primary. He earned enough votes in the primary to make it to the general election, where he won the seat. DeSimone was arrested again in 2016, this time for a murder in Alaska, where he is now serving a 65-year sentence.
When he worked the polls last Tuesday, Hank met Silvey, who said he was voting for himself.