The Daily Agenda: Boring is good sometimes
The primary election is officially over ... Dennis Rodman to the rescue ... And there's no Mike here.
As a reminder, paid subscribers get the Daily Agenda at 6 a.m., while free readers get it at 10 a.m. If you didn’t get it at 6 and you believe you’re paid up, please reply to this email and let us know so we can investigate. Otherwise, become one of the early birds who spend their mornings catching up on Arizona politics by clicking below!
The secretary of state officially put the primary election to bed yesterday when she signed off on the canvass — the final, official results of the election — in a blissfully boring ceremony.
And the canvass once again showed that Arizona voters love early and mail-in voting.
The 35% of registered voters who cast a ballot marked a “historically high turnout for a midterm primary,” per Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. It was significantly higher than previous midterm primaries: The 2018 primary saw turnout clock in at about 33%, while in 2014, it was closer to 27%.
Turnout percentages ranged from 24% in Yuma County to nearly 52% in Yavapai County. Republicans, in particular, had far higher turnout, with roughly 58% of registered Republicans statewide casting a ballot, a reflection of the multiple crowded primaries on the GOP ticket. Democrats turned out at closer to 47%, as few statewide primaries captured the public’s attention.
Independents, who can vote in primaries but must specifically request a ballot, turned out at a paltry 14% in Maricopa County, and they mostly chose Republican ballots.
And despite the near-constant haranguing against mail-in ballots by the far-right, the overwhelming majority of Arizona voters still use them. (While the canvass makes no distinction between in-person early voting and mail-in early voting, the vast majority of early votes are on mail-in ballots.) In other words, politicians who want to outlaw Arizona’s long-running and widely used system of mail-in voting would be biting the hands that put them into office.
While Republicans were slightly less likely to vote by mail after two years of their party leaders and elected officials trashing mail voting as a vehicle for fraud and a tool of mules, Republicans still mostly voted by mail. In Maricopa County, 83% of Republicans voted early, compared to 94% of Democrats.
The canvass was uneventful, as it should be. Even in Pinal County, where multiple serious problems disenfranchised some voters, the county’s lawyers noted that state law requires supervisors to sign off on the county canvass. (All 15 counties must certify their own election canvasses, then the state certifies the statewide canvass.) It isn’t optional for supervisors or a secretary of state.
We can look to New Mexico’s Otero County for an example of what happens when election deniers break the law, though. There, county commissioners refused to certify the results of their June primary because of gut feelings that machines weren’t secure, requiring the New Mexico Supreme Court to intervene and force the commissioners to certify. One of the three still refused, but the results were certified nonetheless.
“My vote to remain a no isn’t based on any evidence, it’s not based on any facts, it’s only based on my gut feeling and my own intuition, and that’s all I need,” commissioner Couy Griffin said to justify his continued opposition to approving the results.
These days, we never know what ministerial duty will become a conspiratorial problem — and it largely depends on who loses an election.
If election deniers like Kari Lake and Mark Finchem hadn’t won their primaries, they likely would have tried to halt canvasses across the state. And if they don’t win in November, expect all hell to break loose in the election canvass.
Soooo, Finchem or Fontes?: The Guardian sat down with outgoing Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who has a lot to say about the state of his party, but still — as far as we know — hasn’t publicly said whether he plans to vote for Democrats in Arizona this fall.
“It’s a party that doesn’t have any thought. It’s all emotional, it’s all revenge. It’s all anger. That’s all it is,” Bowers said in the interview, which included three references to “fascism.”
A prison only works if you have guards: Security at Lewis prison is “on the brink of collapse,” the Republic’s Jimmy Jenkins writes, after interviewing corrections officers who say understaffing is leading to unsafe conditions for them and the inmates. The prison officers said they’ve brought the issues to their leadership, but they have been ignored.
Why such a strong interest in the Oklahoma statehouse?: Kari Lake finally rescinded her endorsement from an Oklahoma state Senate candidate who made lots of anti-semitic comments, the Arizona Mirror’s Jim Small reports. Wendy Rogers and Mark Finchem still endorse Jarrin Jackson, unsurprisingly. Oklahoma’s primary runoff is today.
And Jared Kushner will solve the Middle East: Self-styled ambassador and former NBA player Dennis Rodman is threatening to go to Russia to “help that girl,” meaning WNBA star Brittney Griner, in a move that nobody besides Rodman thinks will help, NBC News reports.
Watch and decide: Brahm Resnik’s interview on 12News’ “Sunday Square Off” with ESA proponent and Arizona Board of Education member Jenny Clark is gaining traction online for its tense back-and-forth over accountability within Arizona’s school voucher program. School choice proponents say Clark owned the liberal media, while public school proponents complain the interview elevated school-choice propaganda.
When others won’t help, help yourself: After states that rely on the Colorado River failed to come up with additional plans to cut their water usage from the river, the Gila River Indian Community said it would be pulling out of a previous deal to leave a chunk of its water allotment in Lake Mead because no one else seems committed to working together, the Republic’s Debra Utacia Krol reports. In Douglas, a group called Arizona Water Defenders survived a legal challenge, meaning their petition to create an active management area for groundwater there will go on the ballot, the Herald/Review’s Shar Porier reports.
Not a fun job: The Republic’s José Ignacio Castañeda Perez tagged along with Battalion Search and Rescue, a volunteer group that regularly finds bones and mummified bodies as they scour the desert near the Arizona-Mexico border, searching for the remains of those who have died while crossing the border.
He has people who swipe for him: Local journalist Dillon Rosenblatt requested logs of electronic keycard access from statewide public officials swiping themselves into their offices, finding that some showed up during the pandemic, others rarely did, and Gov. Doug Ducey doesn’t swipe himself into the Executive Tower. The records are on his new Substack, Fourth Estate 48.
These numbers need to be bigger: Twenty-four teachers are part of Arizona’s new teacher residency program, which offers a master’s degree with subsidized tuition and mentorship for would-be teachers in an attempt to stop burnout, the Republic’s Yana Kunichoff reports. Some are teachers beefing up their bona fides, while others are brand new to the profession. Meanwhile, the Department of Education is using $5 million of federal COVID funding to offer $600 grants to teachers for specific projects, the Arizona Mirror’s Shondiin Silversmith reports. And state Treasurer Kim Yee is opening up a contest for fifth graders to win $529 for their college education if they write three paragraphs about what they want to be when they grow up, ABC15 reports. Finally, Arizona House candidate (and Ducey’s budget chief) Matt Gress is proposing offering teachers a $10,000 raise (if he gets elected to the state Legislature and can get it into the budget).
The right to memes: A lawsuit against the City of Phoenix by a police sergeant who shared memes that mocked Muslim people will move forward, with current cop Juan Hernandez claiming that the police department’s 40-hour suspension for the posts violated his rights to free speech, the Phoenix New Times’ Katya Schwenk reports. Hernandez’s case was dismissed in lower federal court in Arizona, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived it.
Soon, we’ll see buses from D.C. back to Arizona: The federal government won’t allow the D.C. National Guard to help the nation’s capital deal with an influx of migrants on buses from Arizona and Texas, the Associated Press reports. The Pentagon told D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser that the Guard isn’t prepared to support migrants and using it to do so would hamper military training.
Congressional District 1, one of four competitive congressional districts in Arizona, pits a beleaguered incumbent against a young Democrat looking for his first major political office.
Previously known as Congressional District 6, the new CD1 covers areas of central and north Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Fountain Hills. The boundaries extend from 19th Avenue in the west to Fort McDowell in the east, and through Cave Creek to McDowell Road from north to south.
The new district leans Republican by about three percentage points, but it’s slightly less Republican leaning than the old CD6, and voters in the area narrowly swung for President Joe Biden in 2020.
Republican U.S. Rep. David Schweikert emerged victorious from his first competitive primary election since the previous maps were drawn in 2012. In both campaigns he ran homophobic ads his Republican opponents. He will face his Democratic opponent Jevin Hodge.
Schweikert is a former state lawmaker and Maricopa County treasurer who has been in Congress since 2011. He’s known for his copious charts on the House floor and for his ethics violations that resulted in him paying a $50,000 fine, plus a $125,000 penalty to the Federal Election Commission over misuse of campaign funds.
Hodge, a former vice chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, previously ran for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, losing out in a narrow bid against Jack Sellers in 2020. He’s a self-proclaimed “mama’s boy" who doesn’t actually live in the district he hopes to represent, which isn’t required for congressional races.
“Democrat Senator Mike Kelly from Arizona,” began a tweet from Breitbart News, the far-right outlet.
Astute readers will note that, while there is almost certainly a Democrat named Mike Kelly from Arizona, that’s not U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly’s name. Kelly does have a twin brother, though, named Scott Kelly.
Maybe they are triplets, and the third one is named Mike?