The Daily Agenda: Spoiler alert
Is No Labels not just another label? ... We're stacking up the task forces ... And it's about time we go to the ostrich festival.
There will be a new political party on Arizonans’ ballots in 2024.
And the presence of the No Labels Party immediately raised concerns that it could throw elections to a Republican candidate here.
The No Labels Party gathered enough signatures to gain ballot status next year for federal, statewide and legislative races, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes announced this week. The party will join Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians as an officially recognized party.
The new party brands itself as a place for the “politically homeless” who are “tired of the extremes on the left and the right.” It wants to recruit politicians and court voters who are sick of the “anger and divisiveness” in American politics and create a “united front.” The group has said it’s trying to get on the ballot in other key states; so far, it has done so in Colorado and now, Arizona.
State law is stacked against third parties, and it’s not easy for a new party to garner enough support to get access to the ballot. A group needs more than 34,000 valid signatures. The Green Party lost its ability to be on the ballot in 2019 because not enough voters were registered with the party and its candidate hadn’t won enough votes in the previous election, leaving the party to instead try to gather signatures to stay on the ballot, which it wasn’t able to do.
The No Labels Party in Arizona creates a lot of questions. Who will the party recruit as candidates? Will it be active in many races or just focus in on big ones like the presidential or U.S. Senate? Will its voters come from the right, left or independents? Could it siphon enough voters from the left and center to give Republicans a win, or will its voters skew more center-right? Will anyone even run under the No Labels Party banner, is this whole thing a stunt?
Third Way, a Democratic think tank, released a memo this week that said if No Labels backs a moderate for president as a third candidate, it would benefit former President Donald Trump as he seeks a second term, Politico Playbook reports. The so-called unity ticket would instead serve as a “crucial boost to Republicans — and a major obstacle to Biden.”
The third party comes at a pivotal time in Arizona politics. While a No Labels candidate almost certainly wouldn’t win here, our elections are so close for statewide races that their presence could serve as a spoiler.
Could U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent, align with the No Labels Party, boosting both the party and getting some structured help on her campaign? The real difficulty for Sinema will be in running without campaign infrastructure or the advantages that a party provides, assuming Democrats decide not to allow her access to any fundraising or voter data.
Arizona clearly has a political middle that sways elections. Candidates in both parties know they need to court that middle in order to win statewide, though some still run far afield from the political center, usually to their own detriment.
But we’re not sure if that center wants to be part of a new political party. Independents often relish their status in the political no man’s land, even if they mostly vote with one party. No Labels may, for some of those independents, be too much of a label.
If you read one thing today: People in need of affordable housing keep an eye on housing waitlists, jumping on the chance to apply when housing vouchers open up, even if they would need to move across the country to get the spot, the Republic’s Juliette Rihl reports. The “waitlist shopping” means that Arizonans waiting to join the waitlists, which only open up every so often, can get beat out for spots by people from other states.
“Because affordable housing is rapidly disappearing throughout the U.S., many people are increasingly willing — or even needing — to move for it,” Rihl writes. “The scarcity has led to a nationwide phenomenon called ‘waitlist shopping,’ where poor families scour the internet for open affordable housing waitlists, effectively playing a game of geography roulette as they try to secure subsidized housing far from home.”
Tasking task forces with tasks: Gov. Katie Hobbs announced another new task force this week, this one focused on Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. Attorney General Kris Mayes said her office also plans to have a unit focused on the issue, the Arizona Capitol Times’ Nick Phillips reports. The task force is one of many recommendations to come out of a legislative study committee about the same topic.
Design ain’t cheap: Remember Maricopa County’s new logo with the saguaro that some compared to a middle finger? It cost about $200,000 to design, and there were two other options (a saguaro bloom or a sun) that could’ve become the new logo, the Republic’s Sasha Hupka reports.
Not running from his demons: The Washington Post’s Ben Terris went deep with U.S. Rep. and Senate hopeful Ruben Gallego about his mental health and how it’s played into his political career. Gallego has been open about PTSD from his time in the Marines, writing a whole book on the topic (which we read and talked to Gallego about last year).
“I used to serve drinks at Pete Buttigieg’s little political club at the Institute of Politics,” Gallego told the Post. “I hated them all.”
Horne’s hotline: Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne announced a new hotline that will allow parents to report lessons taught to their children that they find inappropriate, which could entail teaching about race and ethnicity, social and emotional learning or sexual content. Ready your records requests — the reports will also be subject to public records laws.
An asset or a liability: Carlos Garcia’s profile rose in Phoenix politics as an activist and a protector of the rights of people who are often marginalized, the Republic’s Taylor Seely writes. His supporters still see the Phoenix councilman as their protector, while his critics say his activist past can give him “tunnel vision” that ignores other problems facing his district.
Another day, another bill roundup: You know where we’re headed with this.
The House unanimously approved a Democratic bill that will make 911 dispatchers eligible for counseling for work-related trauma.
A revived effort to ask voters to get rid of charter cities passed the Senate after its sponsor said she’d make it apply just to Phoenix and Tucson.
A bill would close loopholes that allow build-to-rent and wildcat subdivisions to build without a water supply.
Would throw out more ballots: A lawsuit from conservatives contends that counties aren’t following state law to verify signatures on mail-in ballots, Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer reports. Counties verify signature by looking at multiple examples of a person’s signatures they have access to, while state law says signatures should be compared only to a voter registration card, which the lawsuit claims could lead to signature fraud.
Lots of interest in Buckeye: There’s not enough groundwater to support Buckeye’s grand plan for expansion over the next few decades, but the city and private developers are trying to find ways to diversify the area’s water resources during a time of increasing scarcity, the Republic’s Alexandra Hardle reports. The city’s water future serves as a microcosm of the plans for growth vs. water needs problems happening across the state.
The people affected by the potential laws: Lizette Trujillo, a lifelong Arizonan, writes for the Arizona Mirror that her home state has become a “hostile place” for her family because her teenage son is transgender, citing the legislative attacks on trans children that would impact his access to health care and schooling. Meanwhile, Mother Jones digs up some documents that show the various groups pushing for anti-trans legislation, including the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom.
Joining the club: Gila County could be the next local government that adds some regulations for short-term rentals, the Payson Roundup’s Peter Aleshire reports. The county is considering a $250 annual permit.
Rest in peace: Peterson Zah, a former chairman and president of the Navajo Nation, died Tuesday at age 85, the Navajo Times reports. Zah was the first president of the nation after it moved away from a council government system.
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