The Daily Agenda: Election Day is finally here
Everyone better be nice from now on ... One good letter doesn't erase the past year ... And Dee Snider ain't happy.
Congrats, everyone! Our long-running nightmare of a primary ends today, followed by what will surely be three placid months of friendly campaigning where the best candidates share their detailed policy ideas and engage in substantive debate amongst themselves.
LOL. Wouldn’t that be wild?
We’re watching a few big themes today and a handful of particular races to understand what kind of year it is and what the implications will be for all of you, as people who live here.
It’s an all-out battle across multiple races between the MAGA/Ultra MAGA wing of the Republican Party and the more mainstream, country club conservatives.
We could see a clean sweep either way, which would tell us a lot about how important the 2020 election and its fallout were for the average GOP primary voter. That would put former Fox10 anchor Kari Lake as the gubernatorial nominee, flanked by fellow Trump endorsees Mark Finchem (now very tan) in the secretary of state spot and Abe Hamadeh as the attorney general pick going into November.
If the Republican Party suddenly starts accepting the reality of the 2020 election and backs the moderate slate en masse — Karrin Taylor Robson as guv, Beau Lane as secretary of state and Andrew Gould for AG — we’ll be shocked.
But it’s also possible there’s no clear slate, and some of each group win their primaries. The takeaway may be that there is a bridge too far for Republican voters, but only if your opponent has $18 million to spend.
And either way, you’ll see a smattering of think pieces tying the primary results to larger GOP vs. GOP trends and Trump’s hold (or lack thereof) on the party.
The handful of Dem primaries haven’t been as bruising, though in recent weeks, the fight for the secretary of state nomination between Adrian Fontes and Reginald Bolding has gone negative. For governor, Katie Hobbs likely has it on lock, though some are holding out hope for Marco Lopez.
We suspect Trump’s endorsement provided the surge U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters needed to pull through over Jim Lamon’s massive self-funding. The bigger question is whether that’s true of all of Trump’s endorsees.
At the legislative level, the battle between new national media darling Rusty Bowers and former lawmaker/current far-right darling David Farnsworth provides a clean analogy for the party’s Trump problem (or asset, depending on who’s asking). These two separate stories on Bowers and Farnsworth leading up to today, from Business Insider’s Bryan Metzger, provide all the backstory you need, along with some incredible quotes:
“Everybody is scared to death of Dave Farnsworth, because he doesn't listen well," Bowers told the outlet. "I have no animosity, except that he called me a swamp rat.”
In Legislative District 7, there are no moderates. It’s two incumbents — Sens. Kelly Townsend and Wendy Rogers — trying to figure out how to keep their seats as voters decide just how far right they’ll accept.
Democrats have some crowded legislative primaries, too, but they’re not built around a big existential question about democracy. Instead, there are battles between moderates and progressives, with new districts and open seats.
And more broadly, we’re watching just how much of a role money plays in all of these races. Will self-funders like Robson and Lamon have wasted millions of their personal wealth like so many of Arizona’s wannabe politicians before them?
This year’s primary isn’t as simple as policy differences on tax policy or the intricacies of education funding. There could be an election denier running elections. There could be an AG who promotes the idea that the 2020 election could be decertified. There could be a governor who went from a longtime media job to vehemently hating the media.
Of course, this is all just the first step. Voters get to decide who to put in office in November. At least, we hope that’s still true.
We don’t work in corporate newsrooms anymore, but we still want some Election Night pizza, a long-running newspaper tradition. To contribute to our ability to buy our own election pizzas, smash the button below.
Bring back the old Brno: In a letter to Senate President Karen Fann that sounds a lot like the AG he used to be, Attorney General Mark Brnovich knocked down claims of widespread fraud by dead voters, finding just one example of a deceased person on the list of hundreds of names forwarded to the office by the Cyber Ninjas. The Ninjas noted nearly 300 maybe-dead voters, but other sources submitted thousands more, some of which didn’t match up names and birthdates or were clearly dates of death after the election, Brnovich wrote. In total, the office found “a handful of potential cases” among the many thousands of claims, with the AG ultimately concluding that any allegations of widespread dead voters casting ballots were “insufficient and not corroborated.” (Rachel wrote about this letter in a breaking story for Votebeat yesterday.)
“Our agents investigated all individuals that Cyber Ninjas reported as dead, and many were very surprised to learn they were allegedly deceased,” Brnovich wrote.
Let people vote: Aside from all the hot races we’re watching today, we’re also closely monitoring harassment of election officials and potential voter intimidation. The U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Gary Restaino, told Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer he’s on the lookout for voter intimidation, especially after claims from lawmakers like Kelly Townsend who called for “vigilantes” to monitor ballot dropboxes. As a reminder, you can’t go within the 75-foot barrier around polling places unless you’re voting or working the polls (or you’re a designated observer), and some of the stuff you do outside that barrier could be illegal, too.
The word “public” is right there in the name: At an event that sure seemed like it was more than educational, Turning Point organizers tried to remove Republic journalists from a public park, going as far as to call the cops, who found that people can be in public parks even if you don’t want them to be. Republic reporter Richard Ruelas details the web of Turning Point groups and the kinds of work they’re doing, alongside the laws that pertain to political spending and supporting candidates like David Farnsworth.
We’re all consumers: Attorneys general play a big role in consumer protection, though you probably haven’t heard much about that on the campaign trail from the AG candidates this year. Thankfully, the Republic’s Tara Kavaler asked all of them what they’d do to protect consumers from fraud.
Another election to watch: After Democrat Kathy Hoffman pulled off an upset to win the state superintendent position in 2018, she’s now fending off a host of candidates who want to take her on in November, Politico reports. The crowded GOP primary comes at a time when schools are an increased focus for Republicans, amid rhetoric around critical race theory, LGBTQ rights and COVID-19 policies.
How could we forget he was running: Phoenix New Times reporter Elias Weiss goes long on former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “dying wish” to get back in office. Apparently any office will do, because he’s running for mayor of Fountain Hills. The story includes lots of gems, including that at a “non-campaign” birthday bash for the 90-year-old man, people could buy “Inkjet-printed photos of Arpaio's birthday cake for $741.40, plus tax and shipping.”
That’s one theory: While Arizona’s electorate grows more Latino, and Latinos shift rightward in some places, U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters is trying to court their votes at the same time he’s claiming that Democrats want more immigration so they can win more elections, the New York Times’ Jennifer Medina reports. Extremism experts told Medina the theory was a “sanitized version of the ‘great replacement.’” Meanwhile, the trial for the guy who showed up at a Masters event, got hit and pushed out of the event and then was charged for trespassing was continued until September.
Do sheriffs spray on too?: The New York Times’ Danny Hakim profiles election-denying wannabe election official Mark Finchem, declaring the former Kalamazoo cop couldn’t get rehired there, has been married four times and has two estranged adult children and “has embraced a sun-baked sheriff aesthetic, favoring large cowboy hats that belie his Detroit birthplace.” Politico also put out a Finchem piece yesterday, calling him a “poster child for election deniers.”
January 6th Committee @January6thCmteThe Select Committee has heard from more than 550 witnesses, and we expect these six individuals to cooperate as well as we work to tell the American people the full story about the violence of January 6th and its causes. https://t.co/jQ27H6z7Vv
What do you really think, Bob?: Former Republic columnist turned Substacker Robert Robb argues Republican lawmakers’ threats to hold the school spending cap hostage unless education activists back off from a referendum to force a public vote on the universal voucher bill lawmakers passed this year is dumb.
“Substantively, this is irresponsible. Politically, it is idiotic,” Robb writes.
Sorry state of affairs: It’s back-to-school time for Arizona kids, which means more security and active shooter drills in southern Arizona and staff shortages across the state (though at least Nogales schools are dealing with “less dire circumstances” than others).
Trucking along: After Pinal County mistakenly sent out more than 60,000 ballots that were missing town elections, the county’s plan to rectify the problem is “running pretty well,” county attorney Kent Volkmer told PinalCentral’s Jodie Newell. Speaking of Pinal, Rachel wrote another story for Votebeat about how the human errors in that county could be a sign of more to come as elections workers leave the field.
Rest in peace: One of the last living Navajo Code Talkers died last Friday. Samuel Sandoval was 98.
Since it’s Election Day, we’re skipping a district of the day today, but we wanted to correct an incorrect part of yesterday’s district. We incorrectly stated Sen. Raquel Terán replaced Robert Meza in the Senate. She actually replaced Tony Navarrete following his arrest for child molestation. Meza still serves in the House, though he’s running for justice of the peace this year. Additionally, Cesar Aguilar, a House candidate, no longer serves on the Balsz school board.
After a Twitter account associated with Kari Lake’s campaign tweeted out the lyrics to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” the band’s lead singer, Dee Snider, got pissed.
“This is a PRO-CHOICE anthem you or co-opting. It was NEVER intended for you fascist morons!” Snider tweeted. “As the songwriter & singer I DENOUNCE EVERYTHING @KariLake STANDS FOR! Write your own damn song!”