The Daily Agenda: Let the power struggles begin
It's a very chair-y time of year ... It's over, go home ... And notes from a corporal in the Great Mime War.
Time is running out to get in on our big pre-paywall sale.
We started this little newsletter on a hope and a dream that people would like it and pay for it. But we need your help to keep doing this. For just $84, you can ensure that the Agenda survives another year.
We have thousands of subscribers like you who read this email nearly every day, but don’t pay for it. If just a small fraction of you became paying supporters, we’d be heading into 2023 on really strong financial footing.
Please support the Agenda so we can keep serving you.
Raquel Terán, the progressive leader of Arizona’s Democratic Party, announced last night that she isn’t seeking re-election, just as her MAGA counterpart at the Republican Party, Kelli Ward, prepares to step down from her post as AZGOP leader after four years.
It’s a whole new day in Arizona’s political parties.
While Ward’s replacement has been the source of much speculation in Republican circles, Terán’s departure will create an equally vexing power vacuum. Both parties will hold their organizational meetings in January to elect their next chairs, who will set the tone, direction and strategy of their respective parties through the 2024 presidential election.
Terán was widely seen as a lock to keep the position on the heels of Democratic victories at the top of Arizona’s ballot, unlike Ward, who presided over the drubbing of America First candidates in Arizona the last two cycles.
Already, at least one Democrat is throwing her hat into the ring: Yolanda Bejarano, the vice chair of the party who has roots in union politics, wants a promotion. In an announcement, she piggybacked on Democrats’ wins this year and promised to maintain grassroots momentum to take over the Legislature in 2024.
But Team Hobbs has its own preferred candidate, and members of her crew are meeting over lunch tomorrow with another potential party chair, according to people inside the campaign.
The Democratic power struggle is officially on. While the party usually cedes the limelight to AZGOP’s antics, keeping Democrats together isn’t an easy job, either, and Terán has faced some of her own internal strife between moderate and progressive members of the party. And the next leader of the Arizona Democratic Party will face a bigger challenge than any chair in nearly two decades: being the face of the party that’s effectively governing.
On the Republican side, the rumor mill is already in full swing.
Besides the Ward-endorsed replacement, AZGOP Executive Director Pam Kirby, and Vera Gebran, who announced her candidacy to her 315 Twitter followers last week, we’ve heard a few interesting names of potential future AZGOP leaders: Former Gov. Jan Brewer; former congressman, state party chair and gubernatorial contender Matt Salmon (as well as his wife Nancy, a longtime party activist); Arizona Senate President Karen Fann; former lawmaker Lori Klein; and former state treasurer turned Trump administration official Jeff DeWit, who is allegedly being drafted by the Turning Point crowd.
Salmon and Fann, however, confirmed to us that they’re out. And while Salmon said Brewer could be a strong, unifying voice, he said he's asked her, and she’s not interested, either. Salmon likes Klein, saying she’s got the skills and the temperament to do the job, though he’s not sure if she’s willing to run either.
“We probably need someone at the helm who is a little bit more patient than me,” Salmon said. “I don’t have patience for all the conspiracy theories and the crap. … I think that more than anything right now, we need a leader who is willing to speak truth. And the truth is, we’ve got to get our act together. The truth is, we didn't put up the best candidates in the general election to win.”
The next AZGOP chair will have to find a way to bridge the divide between MAGA and business Republicans or risk slumping into the losing routine that Ward established. There are very few Republicans who can successfully straddle both worlds, Salmon noted — he doesn’t even think he can win, for example, since he doesn’t “drink the Kool-Aid.”
Meanwhile, the business wing of the party desperately wants a chair who can win races and not generate headlines. Democrats are on the upswing in Arizona, and they’ll stay that way unless the party takes a deep look in the mirror, Salmon said.
“I kind of feel like we have hit rock bottom, but maybe we haven’t,” Salmon said. “You know, if we're crazy enough as a party to elect somebody of Kelli Ward's thinking and somebody with her failed game plan, then I think we're in for some really hard times.”
End of an era: State officials signed off on the statewide canvass yesterday, certifying the winners and losers of the 2022 election and opening the five-day window to file lawsuits challenging those results, though Kari Lake and Abe Hamadeh are holding off a day or two, Axios Phoenix’s Jeremy Duda reports. Continuing his strategy of failing to play both sides, Attorney General Mark Brnovich showed up late, offered a short, cryptic statement during the ceremony followed up by another weird press release afterwards about how he didn’t endorse the election results or the “lawfulness under which the election was conducted.” The canvass also means that state lawmakers can start pre-filing bills in the House and Senate, though none had been filed when we checked Monday.
It’s over: Former Gov. Jan Brewer told 12News’ Tram Mai that she voted for Kari Lake, even after being “very disappointed in her rhetoric,” but it’s time for Lake to knock it off with the election denialism. Brewer also had some kind words for Gov.-Elect Katie Hobbs, saying while being secretary of state is nothing like governor, Hobbs is as prepared for the jobs as a person can be, because she “has a history, she knows how the Legislature works, she can read a bill, she knows about appropriations, she knows the issues and she knows the departments.”
“Why are you doing it, Kari? I mean, it’s going to be certified. It’s over. The votes have been counted,” Brewer said.
2023 is an election year: Independent candidate Zach Yentzer, who is challenging Tucson Mayor Regina Romero in the city’s November 2023 election, wrote something of a rebuttal in the Arizona Daily Star to her state of the city address last week, saying the city could be stronger, especially when it comes to the housing crisis.
Your money is no good anywhere: U.S. Reps. Ruben Gallego and David Schweikert got rid of campaign funds that came from executives at FTX, the crypto exchange that spontaneously combusted, and its disgraced former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, who is now facing potential criminal charges, the Phoenix New Times’ Elias Weiss reports. Gallego said he gave his contribution to Oregon Rep. Andrea Salinas, who Bankman-Fried funded a primary challenge against. Schweikert said he’s giving any FTX-tied contributions to charitable organizations in his district. Bankman had contributed more than $25 million to a PAC that supported Democrats (though not in Arizona). Hobbs’ campaign paid the treasurer of that PAC more than $100,000 through his consulting company, but didn’t receive any money from the PAC or FTX executives, Weiss writes.
So much purple: The Arizona Legislature will have five split districts, more than at any time since 2008, the Republic’s Ray Stern writes in a piece that includes some fun mini-profiles of the hot legislative races. Though Democrats are still in the minority, they have newfound influence with Hobbs in the Ninth Floor.
Not big on honoring election results: Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs talked about his failed bid for speaker of the U.S. House on KTAR yesterday, and he again threatened to withhold his vote from the guy Republicans chose to lead them, Kevin McCarthy, when it comes time for the real vote on the floor.
It’s like time traveling: The Daily Star’s environmental reporter Tony Davis is publishing a deep-dive package of stories about troubles on the Colorado River. In one of the pieces, he writes about how the dropping waterline means the reemergence of a place called Cathedral in the Desert, which was flooded out decades ago when Glen Canyon Dam was built in what some critics still consider “one of the U.S.'s biggest environmental mistakes of the 20th century.”
It’s what makes Arizona so special: Rachel rounds out the latest Arizona madness for the Guardian, writing that election denialism fever hasn’t yet broken, but there are signs it’s slowing down. Elections experts say legal consequences, not merely losses, could be the biggest factor for hindering the spread of election denialism. And Hank went on KJZZ’s “The Show” yesterday to talk about the state certification of the election.
Hotels are also cool: After lawmakers gave city councils back a bit of the control it has stripped from them to regulate short-term rentals, cities are using that authority, the Republic’s Brenda Muñoz Murguia and Sam Kmack write. In six Valley cities, local elected leaders are working on adopting more Airbnb regulations, though they’re still somewhat tied by state rules.
Procrastination paying off: Arizonans will have more time to not get a Real ID after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced yesterday the May 2023 deadline to get one to fly will be pushed back to May 2025, ABC15 reports.
A unique approach: Death row inmate Aaron Gunches is asking the state to execute him “immediately,” the Republic’s Jimmy Jenkins reports. It’s not clear why he’s petitioning the state, but if his request is granted, it would fall to Gov.-elect Hobbs and AG-elect Kris Mayes to carry out the order.
This guy again: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling denying Gateway Pundit “reporter” Jordan Conradson’s request for a temporary restraining order against Maricopa County’s decision to bar him from press conferences. The county will have to give him a press pass while the larger court case plays out.
Pretty soon, Mark Finchem won’t be elected in Arizona anymore, but there’s still time for some more laughs from him. We have no idea what the “Second Great Meme War” is, but we’re still laughing at his performance in Mime War I.
Our favorite Lori Klein story is the time she pointed a loaded gun at Republic reporter Richard Ruelas.
You mentioned the Ray Stern story on the 5 split districts and more; I found it useful. Also, if you don't mind what might be viewed as shameless self-promotion, Deborah Howard and I wrote a commentary on the relationship between the redistricting outcome and the electoral results, which was published in the Arizona Mirror yesterday: https://www.azmirror.com/2022/12/05/arizona-redistricting-and-destiny-the-2022-results-mostly-match-the-2021-expectations/
Wow, surprised to see David Schweikert actually getting rid of campaign funds instead of going back to his old ways of misusing them.