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The Daily Agenda: Being purple has its benefits
The onslaught of ads is paying someone's bills ... Scrapping the primary election ... And not the town gazebo!
We may be finally heading into fall, but Arizona is just starting to heat up, at least when it comes to political spending.
Arizona is on track to have the second most political spending of any state, behind only behemoth California with its 10 competitive U.S. House races, a multitude of ballot initiatives and a plethora of local races, according to AdImpact, a political data firm that tracks campaign spending.
The ad spending gurus say we can expect an infusion of more than $800 million worth of political ad buys, about half of which will go to the state’s broadcast television stations. That’s up from just $525 million two years ago, and $218 million four years ago.
But perhaps most striking from the annual report is just how much political ad buys have increased nationwide in recent years. This year’s election is projected to be the most expensive of all time at about $10 billion. That’s up enormously from just eight years ago when $2.6 billion was spent nationwide.
Spending in the presidential race in Arizona will ratchet up again this year, with Arizona expecting to spend an additional $137 million over four years for its first presidential election in decades as a technically blue state. Florida, on the other hand, is expected to lose out on about $269 million from what was spent there four years ago as it continues its shift from purple to red state.
Arizona’s U.S. Senate race is expected to be the most expensive in the country. Last year, we were only behind Georgia, according to the ad tracking agency, which noted that recent Arizona statewide races have “hinged on razor-thin margins,” and the Phoenix advertising market is “one of the most expensive markets in the country.”
That’s a huge problem for local businesses that can’t afford to buy airtime during the election season. As Kevin Rowe of the Lerner and Rowe law firm once told our former colleague Rachel Leingang, all the local businesses with jingles hate election season.
“I pray that (the election) hurries up and comes,” he said. “I would love to see competitors’ ads. I'd rather see that than see the negative stuff coming from the politicians right now.”
But what does all this spending mean to us average voters? Well, it means your vote counts more than ever!
And it means that you better enjoy those familiar local business jingles while you can, because you’re about to be inundated with more political ads than you’ve ever seen before. Anyway, here’s a fun throwback for those who missed it:
We still prefer “jungle primary”: The open primary folks have filed their initiative, settling on a system that would scrap partisan primaries and have candidates for partisan offices run in one big primary in which all voters could vote, Axios Phoenix’s Jeremy Duda reports. How the November election works would be up to the Legislature. The initiative, which needs about 400,000 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot, would allow lawmakers to decide if the November elections should be a ranked-choice system of up to the five top vote-getters from the primary, or a regular top-two style general election in which the candidates could potentially be from the same party.
She’s running: Former Republican lawmaker Michelle Ugenti-Rita is running for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors against Republican Tom Galvin. She’s more Tea Party than America First,1 but she promised to “take on the county cartel,” and declared Galvin “a political appointee beholden to the agenda of the establishment.” (He was appointed in 2021 but won the seat outright in a special election last year.)
Speak of the devil: Former lawmaker Don Shooter’s defamation lawsuit against his former colleagues, J.D. Mesnard and Kirk Adams, is finally over, now that the Arizona Supreme Court has shot down his petition for review, the Yellow Sheet Report reports. Shooter was expelled from his seat after many women at the Capitol accused him of sexual harassment, including Ugenti-Rita, who later had her own sexual harassment scandal. It is the second supreme court to shoot down his case after SCOTUS declined to hear an appeal last year.
Déjà vu: The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to ask an outside law enforcement agency to investigate Democratic Sheriff Chris Nanos over his decision to pause an internal investigation into other cops knew allegedly that a female officer was being sexually assaulted by her sergeant at a Christmas party and did nothing. In our sister newsletter, the Tucson Agenda, Caitlin notes this isn’t the first time Nanos been under the microscope — her reporting in 2016 sparked an FBI investigation into his office, resulting in a conviction of Nanos’ second-in-command for theft of federal funds.
Sovereign supervisor: Attorney General Kris Mayes has no right to enforce open meetings laws against Cochise County Supervisor Tom Crosby because he’s “not in the judicial branch, and therefore, no attorney is above me in a ‘chain of command’ or oversight, or supervisory capacity,” he claims. The Herald-Review’s Terri Jo Neff got ahold of the letter he sent her earlier this month responding to her threats to potentially ask a court to remove him from office, which the law explicitly gives the AG the right to do.
“As a County Supervisor I am not in the judicial branch, and therefore, no attorney is above me in a ‘chain of command’ or oversight, or supervisory capacity,” Crosby wrote.
Got rich quick: The Washington Post offers a deep dive into the Medicaid sober living home fraud scheme that targeted Native Americans and other vulnerable people in Arizona and other states, noting that law enforcement officials will be working on the case for “years into the future” and one of the “clinics” purchased a $3.4 million mansion “with a diving pool, a lazy river and an outdoor pizza oven.”
“It blows my mind there was no oversight. These are federal dollars,” Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said. “Our people deserved as much care and concern for how services are being delivered to them.”
Getting fired > working: The Casa Grande Union High School District will pay out $358,000 to former Superintendent Anna Battle after firing her two years before her contract was up when new board members took over after last year’s election, Pinal Central’s Jodie Newell reports.
Today in The Most Adorable Local News Stories in Arizona, we celebrate Scottsdale’s “sign lady” whose yard contains not a “for sale” sign or a political sign, but a sign designed to make you smile with daily messages that are “somewhere between fortune cookie sayings and Bazooka Joe jokes,” Scottsdale Progress’ Tom Scanlon writes. She started doing it during COVID-19 and has just kept it up because the neighbors love it.
And let’s pour one out for “the town gazebo” in Camp Verde, which ended its decades of service providing shade to residents, per the Camp Verde Bugle.