The Daily Agenda: Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
You have to win the sign war ... COVID is back ... And out-of-work lawmakers turn to acting.
By now, you’ve seen your fair share of them: Political signs litter nearly every street corner in Arizona as we near the state’s primary elections. Sometimes, a dozen signs compete for eyeballs on a single corner.
In the past week, we’ve seen Wendy Rogers tweeting about all the “whining” from constituents about where she’s putting her signs, and Kari Lake saying she’ll put up three signs to replace any vandalized one — kinda like how gremlins multiply when they get wet.
With the amount of money candidates spend on signs and the drama associated with sign season, you’d be forgiven for thinking that political signs were a key way to swing voters.
They aren’t. The research out there on signs shows that they’re marginally helpful, but only provide a modest boost to campaigns, if anything. “Yard signs don’t vote” encapsulates the general belief: The signs themselves aren’t doing much to get a voter to the polls for your candidate or campaign.
Still, politics, especially in a swing state like Arizona, is all about the margins. Moving someone closer to voting for you takes all kinds of approaches, from knocking on doors to mailers to digital ads to, yes, political signs. You basically have to have them because the absence of them raises eyebrows and can upset adamant supporters and volunteers.
We should note, some consultants say it’s better if those signs are actually in someone’s yard, as opposed to a crowded street corner. It shows how your neighbor is going to vote, and that could affect how you view a candidate.
And a good chunk of the signs probably don’t follow laws for political signage, but nobody really files complaints against them because it’s time-consuming and not that big of a deal.
Voters want to see signs for their preferred candidates, despite the cost and logistical hurdles they can cause campaigns, Democratic consultant Adam Kinsey, a noted sign hater, told us. But signs take more time and energy than they’re worth. Sometimes, a supporter will have a chance to ask a future governor or member of Congress a question on the campaign trail and will ask about where their yard signs are, he said.
He throws signs in with other campaign “chum” like t-shirts, stickers and assorted merch. You can use them to make your supporters happy and engaged, but direct contact with voters is a much better use of limited campaign funds (and signs shouldn’t take up a huge chunk of your budget).
Kinsey quoted former state lawmaker George Cunningham, who said it best: “Signs aren’t important, but you have to win the sign war.”
Please pay for a subscription so that Hank doesn’t follow through on his latest gimmick: Creating Arizona Agenda campaign signs to add to your favorite intersections.
Good luck debunking bullshit: The Jan. 6 committee hearings continued yesterday as members of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle explained the incredible lengths they went to to try to debunk the “bullshit,” “absurd” and “crazy” fraud claims that Trump threw out, only to see Trump float the same or new conspiracies to the public as he became increasingly “detached from reality” following the election. Trump made a lot of money from those lies through his “Election Defense Fund,” which didn’t actually exist. And the Fox News analyst who called Arizona for President Joe Biden is pretty proud of himself.
The virus that goes around comes around: Gov. Doug Ducey contracted COVID-19 and had to skip his planned appearances with former Vice President Mike Pence yesterday, though his office says the governor is asymptomatic. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced she was positive, too. Cindy McCain also announced she got the ‘vid yesterday, saying she’s fully vaxxed. Meanwhile, AZGOP chair Kelli Ward announced once again that she doesn’t understand how vaccines work, despite allegedly being a medical doctor.
Blake gets the late-night treatment: HBO’s John Oliver roasted Republican U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters, saying if you think his name implies he’s a third-tier James Bond villain, “wait until you hear about his everything else.” Masters’ claim that America’s gun violence problem is because of “Black people, frankly” and his admiration for the Unabomber made an appearance, as did Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s nunchuck videos. The best line came after Oliver highlighted Masters’ fear that journalists will interview his middle school classmates and pour over his teenage writings.
“It’s like saying, ‘My petty opponents will go from dog pound to dog pound asking the staff what I may have done with all those stray dogs,’” Oliver said, adding “someone probably needs to interview Blake Masters’ middle school classmates as soon as possible.”
A tiny home on the way to a starter home: A Tucson nonprofit is in the final stages of building six tiny homes for young adults transitioning out of foster care, the Arizona Daily Star’s Caitlin Schmidt reports. The project, fueled by federal pandemic funding, hopes to build a small village of 10 homes eventually, where renters will pay $450 per month in rent, a portion of which will be put into savings to buy their own home.
Some schools are more equal than others: Ducey’s office is preparing to hand out significant grants to schools, but schools that went mostly remote during the pandemic are getting stiffed, the Republic’s Yana Kunichoff and Geoff Hing report. Whiter, wealthier schools are more likely to have stayed open long enough to receive the grants, they found.
Gil, let’s talk!: U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego helped push for an increase to the federal mileage rate to account for rising gas prices, inspired in part by a conversation with an Uber driver who didn’t know Gallego was in Congress, Gallego said on Twitter. The rate for the last six months of 2022 will be 62.5 cents per mile, an increase of 4 cents, the IRS announced last week. Gallego is now trying to get ahold of the driver, named Gil, who we would also love to talk to because this is precious.
Get back on that sidewalk: Although they cannot cite people for sleeping on streets and sidewalks, police around the Valley are ticketing homeless people for trespassing when they lay down for the night in parking lots or other private property, a practice that advocates call discriminatory, the Republic’s Taylor Stevens writes.
New school just dropped: Despite its first investors reportedly pulling out after the Washington Post started asking questions, Turning Point USA is moving forward with its planned private K-12 school to fight critical race theory, “wokeism” and “queer theory” in academia. It’s teaming up with Dream City Church for the project. Because it’s a private school, they don’t need any approvals from the state.
China first: Peter Thiel, the billionaire patron of Blake Masters’ U.S. Senate campaign, is hitting primary contender Jim Lamon with a new ad that highlights Lamon’s business ties to “communist China” — undercutting Lamon’s anti-China campaign theme. Meanwhile, Lamon is attacking Masters as having invested in Chinese stem cell research and Chinese companies, the Phoenix New Times’ Elias Weiss writes.
At least they didn’t wind up at NAU: The Republic’s Alison Steinbach followed a group of young Afghan women who fled their country after the Taliban takeover last summer and wound up at Arizona State University after the school jumped at the chance to host them.
“We just see this as an extension of our duty, an extension of our responsibility, an extension of our creativity, an extension of what America is about,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “We need to step up.”
School is cool again: College undergraduate enrollment in Arizona climbed this year amid a national decline of new college enrollments, Axios’ Jessica Boehm writes. ASU attributed its increase to online learning, while the University of Arizona said its increase is because of outreach to high school students.
Let’s all plant some trees: Latinos in the U.S. are on the frontlines of environmental activism, Latino environmental groups told the Associated Press. In polls, Latinos are more likely to say climate changes affects their communities, which are often hotter because they have fewer trees, the AP wrote.
It’s like the Arpaio days never ended: Maricopa County paid a eight-figure settlement to the family of an 18-year-old who was arrested for a parole violation and sent to the county jail’s maximum security unit, where he was beaten by another inmate and suffered a severe brain injury from which he will likely never recover, the Phoenix New Times’ Katya Schwenk reports.
“What became clear to us was they weren’t watching him,” Tony Piccuta, the family’s attorney, told the New Times. “And it wasn’t that they weren’t watching for two seconds, and it happened, and they couldn’t have stopped it. They weren’t watching for hours.”
Too much of a good thing: Tucson’s proposed code changes to require businesses to install more electric-vehicle charging stations are receiving blowback from the business community, which says it likes electric vehicles, but the new rules go too far too fast, the Arizona Daily Star’s David Wichner reports.
It’s hot and getting hotter: Maricopa County has only seen one heat-related death so far this year, though that number is sure to climb, AZFamily reports. Here’s a handy tool to find cooling stations and other heat resources for those stuck outside.
We’re running out of bills to write about because there isn’t a whole lot of work left to do at the Capitol.
The budget likely won’t move this week: The Arizona Capitol Times’ Nathan Brown is anticipating a “light week” for the House. And in the Senate, GOP Sen. Tyler Pace is apparently out of state but would return if a budget vote is needed.
Sure, there’s no budget, but there is this video of a handful of House Republican lawmakers doing their best impressions of people who work for a living.
(The topic couldn’t be more serious, but the video itself is full of great acting and fancy production techniques — that’s the funny part.)
Give Arizona Rep. John Kavanagh an Oscar for this!