The Daily Agenda: Democrats revolt!
Against the Democratic governor? ... Everyone stay in their lane ... And it's almost start your own rumor season.
Democrats revolted against Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs yesterday as lawmakers, statewide elected Dems and left-leaning groups declared the budget Hobbs negotiated with legislative leaders wasn’t good enough and demanded she renegotiate a better deal to protect and fund Democratic priorities.
It was a sharp rebuke of the governor’s negotiating skills from the newly empowered Democratic ranks. All Democrats except one voted against the bills in House and Senate committees. They argued the budget would “choke vital services,” starve higher education, underfund law enforcement and elections and eventually bankrupt the state because it doesn’t cap Arizona’s ballooning universal school voucher program.
“It’s no secret right now that my caucus is a ‘no’ on the budget because we know we could do better,” Democratic Rep. Athena Salman said before voting against the package in committee.
Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes joined Democratic AG Kris Mayes in the fight, firing off a Twitter thread attacking the budget that Hobbs had pledged to sign just the day before.
But Hobbs and Republican lawmakers pressed ahead anyway. Republicans fast-tracked the nearly $18 billion budget package out of the House Appropriations Committee in a one-vote mass motion for 18 bills after 22 minutes of debate.
The full Senate approved the budget after midnightwith unanimous support from Republicans. Democratic opposition died down after Hobbs hit the phones personally last night to whip votes among her former colleagues in the Senate, and about half of the Senate Democrats ultimately ended up voting for it. The full House is scheduled to debate and vote on the package today, then send it to the governor’s desk.
Though the Democratic rebellion fizzled, the episode highlighted what one ally of the governor called Hobbs’ “abject failure” to effectively communicate with friends and inspire faith and loyalty from them. And that “borderline incompetence” soured what should have been a big win for the governor. But by publicly attempting to tank the budget after Hobbs had committed to it, many Democrats crossed a line and made an enemy of the governor unnecessarily, the source said.
Republicans, meanwhile, were quite tickled with the turn of events, and even the freedom caucus unanimously supported the record-spending budget. One Republican lawmaker called the whole show “incredibly funny” while a GOP consultant told us with a laugh, “I love it.”
Democrats’ campaign to kill the governor’s budget deal was the kind of mutiny that the last Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, would have immediately crushed, longtime political observers couldn’t help but note.
“Democrats lived in mortal terror of her,” one Republican former lawmaker from the Napolitano era said. “I can’t imagine the Democratic attorney general ever openly criticizing one of her budgets. Never.”
Of course, Napolitano was a different governor operating in a different time. And the kind of arm-twisting threat-launching governing style that Napolitano employed to create coalition Super Glue just isn’t Hobbs’ style, and it likely wouldn’t be as effective today anyway, another Democratic consultant said.
But the fundamentals of coalition building remain the same — it’s all based on communication and personal relationships. And despite spending a decade in the Legislature, Hobbs holds too little sway among Democrats at the Capitol and has too few relationships outside the Executive Tower to keep her colleagues on her side.
After a generation out of power, Democrats are learning once again that it’s a lot easier to unite around opposing Republican policies than to unite around governing and compromise.
Who’s in charge of elections TikTok?: Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a new agreement divvying up elections responsibilities more clearly between the recorder and the board, and Votebeat’s Jen Fifield is on the case. The county’s bifurcated system left Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer collecting blame for failures on Election Day 2022, despite not being in charge of actual Election Day voting. The board is also set to vote today on a policy to ban TikTok from all county-issued devices.
Veto queen > bill sponsor king: The state Senate’s most prolific bill sponsor, Republican Sen. John Kavanagh, hasn’t had much luck with the 86 bills he sponsored this year, the Arizona Mirror’s Cailtlin Sievers reports. Hobbs has signed four of his bills and vetoed another 17 (though 14 of those were the “skinny budget” bills in his name).
“I do a lot of really hard core conservative bills, which in the past I’ve been very successful with but I believe I will be in a four-year hiatus in that area,” Kavanagh told Sievers.
Politicians looking out for politicians: Hobbs signed Senate Bill 1061, which will allow lawmakers to shield their address from public disclosure. On a related note, Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers is due in court today to defend the restraining order she got against Capitol Times reporter Camryn Sanchez because Sanchez rang her doorbell as part of an investigation into whether the lawmaker actually lives in a 1,000 square foot mobile home in her district, or one of her two other houses in the Valley. SB1062 was one of several bills Hobbs signed yesterday, including a measure to limit the amount and ways that private donors can give to support a governor’s inauguration ceremonies, a reform Republicans championed after Hobbs’ dark-money-fueled inauguration ceremonies, the Arizona Mirror’s Caitlin Sievers writes.
We would love to own multiple homes and a vacation house in Flagstaff. Subscribe so we can live large like Wendy Rogers!
If at first you get sanctioned…: Kari Lake’s court-sanctioned lawyers are due back in court on Friday to make oral arguments on the only remaining piece of her election lawsuit: whether Maricopa County properly verified signatures on mail-in ballots. If the court decides to allow her claim to go to trial, it could happen as early as next week, the Republic’s Stacey Barchenger reports.
Scottsdale in a nutshell: The owner of a party tractor that pulls a party trailer full of party-goers around Old Town Scottsdale is fighting with police after they ticketed him several times because tractors don’t fall under the definition of “motorized quadricycles,” AKA party bikes. The Phoenix New Times’ Elias Weiss has the story of how the renegade businessman is not making friends in the partymobile industry or with police, who he claims are unfairly targeting him.
“I’m about to sue the hell out of everybody because I need to know what’s going on. It has been a total circus.” Stephen Eubank, owner of the “Big Sexy” trailer, told New Times.
Mesa in a nutshell: The 2024 race to replace Mesa Mayor John Giles is already hot, even though statements of interest to run aren’t due for another year, the East Valley Tribune’s Scott Shumaker reports. Former Mesa Mayor and Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith told the Tribune he’s considering, as did former congressman and gubernatorial contender Matt Salmon. City councilman Mark Freeman has already filed a statement of interest, as have Robert Adams and Andre Miller, a civil rights leader and pastor at New Beginnings Church in Mesa.
Arizona in a nutshell: The state is poised to hand out $200 million in grants from the $1 billion water allocation Gov. Doug Ducey put into his final budget, to public entities and nonprofits partnering with them to improve water efficiency and conservation, the Republic’s Clara Migoya writes. Indian tribes are not eligible to apply, though Migoya reports lawmakers are attempting to “fix that mistake” in the original legislation. The federal government is streamlining permitting of the Hermosa mine in the ecologically diverse Patagonia mountains in Santa Cruz County, and conservation groups are not happy, the Republic’s Sarah Lapidus reports. In northern Arizona, conservationists with the Center for Biological Diversity are trying to save two endangered “water-loving, fish-eating, frog-gulping garter snake species” from going extinct, the Payson Roundup’s Peter Aleshire reports. The brewing lawsuit could have a big impact on management of rivers and streams in northeastern Arizona.
The Arizona Legislature in a nutshell: Democratic Rep. Stephanie Stahl-Hamilton is lawyering up in an attempt to beat the House Ethics Committee complaint against her for hiding House bibles in the House refrigerator, the Arizona Capitol Times’ Jakob Thorington writes. Her lawyers are two former Democratic lawmakers: Domingo DeGrazia and Diego Rodriguez, and they’re arguing it was a peaceful protest “in response to the weaponizing of religion in politics.”
Vote late, vote often: If you live in Tempe and haven’t mailed in your ballot for the special election about the proposed Coyotes arena and entertainment district, don’t put it in the mail now. AZfamily reports that it’s too late to ensure it’ll arrive in time to be counted. You’ll have to drop off your ballot at a voting location before 7 p.m. next Tuesday.
We love the many rumors that fly around the Capitol during late night budget sessions.
One of the many rumors yesterday was that the the Senate wanted to vote last night because Sen. Wendy Rogers was due in court for a challenge to her restraining order against Capitol Times reporter Camryn Sanchez in Flagstaff today.
One Republican lawmaker said that wasn’t the real reason. Instead, they said lawmakers and the governor wanted to move quickly before Democratic opposition to the deal ramped up.
But we like the rumor better.
We also heard a rumor yesterday that Republican leaders may never sine die, and could opt to simply keep the session open all year. That would leave lawmakers the ability to act without requiring Gov. Katie Hobbs to call them into a special session.
We don’t like that rumor as much.
That’s about one minute of debate for every $818 million.
The state Constitution says all bills must be read three times over three days. Because lawmakers only introduced the budget package Monday, the earliest they could vote was 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
Who is surprised that the Governor could not be depended on to negotiate the way out of ESA expansion? She ran on being sane, as compared to Kari Lake , and being better than a nutcase is a pretty low bar. Corporate Dems continue to believe that that is enough , all the while talking about the importance of gaining the youth vote that was energized by Bernie Sanders. Who really believes that young people will bother to vote for a party that only stands for the “ normal” status quo of crushing student debt, abject refusal to fix the immigration system, watering down crucial labor demands etc? Yep, better than the other “guy” but when the other guy is a raving lunatic thats just not saying much.
As a Democrat, this intra-party problem saddens me. Not that it is unusual; as Will Rogers reportedly said almost a century ago, "I'm a member of no organized party. I'm a Democrat." I hope that the Governor and the Democratic legislators (and the AG and SOS) can connect more effectively in the future. The state needs them to.