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The Daily Agenda: The kumbaya candidates
Outvote the fraud, or vote out the fraud? ... We await our censure from the GOP ... And what is MAGA without the MAGAMAN?
Kari Lake secured the GOP nomination for governor, then promptly left town to bash the moderate Republicans she’ll need to win the state.
Appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, the former newscaster said, “We drove a stake through the heart of the McCain machine,” continuing the anti-McCain tour she started months ago.
But that kind of rhetoric didn’t deter Gov. Doug Ducey, the co-chairman of the Republican Governors Association and Lake’s potential predecessor, from spending his organization’s money or throwing his support behind the candidate he said was “misleading voters” and putting on “an act” just a few weeks ago.
Anyone expecting Ducey to break party lines hasn’t been paying attention. Ducey is the ultimate team player for the Republican cause. He rarely speaks out publicly against his party or its leaders. And let’s not forget his comments about Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers, after she appeared at a conference hosted by a white nationalist: She was still better than the moderate Democrat she beat.
While the Trump endorsement carries a lot of weight in a primary, he lost Arizona in 2020. But Lake is molded in Trump’s image — a former TV personality turned politician who sticks it to the media. As Politico reports, Lake’s repeated allegiance to the former president and his claims of a rigged election has earned Lake a “special place” in Trump’s heart.
Never mind that the election processes this week delivered Lake a victory. Her supporters simply “outvoted the fraud.” And unspecified, constant criticism of Maricopa County elections from Lake’s loudest supporters don’t nullify her victory. They instead lay the groundwork for claims of fraud should Lake lose out in November. We can’t picture a Lake concession speech because she’ll probably never give one, even if she loses.
You know it’s bad when constant embarrassment U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar suggests Lake get a tour of county elections so she can understand why it takes time to verify signatures. (And to understand why counting takes as long as it takes, check out this AP explainer. We’ll note that the reason we stay glued to counts here is because we’re known for close races — not because it takes longer than other states.)
In Arizona, you need a coalition including independents to win a statewide race. They make up about one-third of our electorate. And they’re far less allied to Trump and falsehoods about the 2020 election.
We don’t think Lake can pull them in if she keeps running as she has so far. But we don’t think the Democrats can inspire, either.
Dem nominee Katie Hobbs has thus far avoided debates. Her primary opponent, Marco Lopez, still hasn’t congratulated her on her win. (He did fire off an ill-advised tweet with a photo of him and Lake on Friday before deleting it and explaining he was just trying to emphasize that he showed up on the campaign trail and Hobbs didn’t.) Hobbs has plenty of liabilities, though her platform is far more middle-of-the-road than Lake’s, which could appeal to moderates.
She’ll need to work hard to best a former TV anchor on a debate stage and beef up her ground game. So far, she’s back on the road, touring around the state. Lake and Hobbs — and a bevy of national groups — will be on the airwaves nonstop til November.
Hobbs has framed the race as a “choice between sanity and chaos.” She’s right. In the GOP primaries, no statewide candidate embraced reality on the 2020 election, as Rachel wrote for the Washington Post last week. Democrats have a lane here — they can bring in sanity-embracing moderates and independents.
But Arizona voters might just choose chaos if sanity doesn’t make a strong case.
Speaking of chaos, we’re nearing our one-year anniversary of running our own publication. And that means we’re putting up a paywall soon. But if you click this button, you can get a two-week trial for free.
The Senate does something: The U.S. Senate passed a major climate and health bill yesterday after U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema decided to approve it, ending the “Sinema watch party” and giving Democrats the votes needed for passage. The vote-a-rama on Sunday came after a few days of speculation over whether Sinema would play ball, which she did after a few changes to the bill, particularly on the carried interest tax loophole. For more on the loophole and Sinema’s defense of it, check out this column by the Arizona Daily Star’s Tim Steller.
All eyes on BG: Brittney Griner, the Phoenix Mercury center now at the center of an international incident, was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia for possessing marijuana. In a statement, the Biden administration said it considers Griner to be “wrongfully detained” and called on Russia to release her, as pressure on Biden grew. A potential swap to release two Americans, including Griner, for a Russian arms dealer becomes more relevant now, though the U.S. says the ball is in Russia’s court on the deal, CNN reports.
Whoops: Arizona Senate President Karen Fann used state resources to issue a campaign press release, a clear violation of state law. The press release called for “unity” following the bruising GOP primary and boosted Kari Lake while dissing Katie Hobbs. The release was on state Senate letterhead and distributed by the Arizona Senate GOP’s Twitter account. It was later retracted, and the Senate GOP claims it was sent out via official channels on accident, which doesn’t really change the fact that Fann used state resources to draft it.
Raise your hand if you HAVEN’T been censured: Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican, was censured by the executive committee of the Maricopa County GOP, ABC15’s Garrett Archer pointed out. They cited Richer’s comments defending the 2020 election and claimed there were massive problems and irregularities in the 2022 election so far (there were not widespread problems that prevented people from voting in Maricopa County).
A position you forgot was elected: The New York Times documents how GOP state treasurers, including Arizona’s, have tried to stop efforts to address climate change by regulators and by banks. Arizona’s treasurer, Kimberly Yee, “joined a larger campaign to thwart the nominations of federal regulators who wanted to require that banks, funds and companies disclose the financial risks posed by a warming planet,” the paper reports.
Redistricting’s gift: More than a dozen sitting lawmakers on both sides of the aisle didn’t win their races in the primary, meaning you’re all going to have to learn even more new names next year, the Republic’s Ray Stern reports. On the right, candidates farther right than lawmakers like Kelly Townsend and Vince Leach won the day. On the left, the trend was more mixed. Three progressives ousted incumbents, though we also saw a return of several socially conservative Democrats like Lydia Hernandez and Catherine Miranda. GOP lawmakers who prevented more extreme policies from passing were largely booted, meaning we’re possibly in for a redder Legislature without people like Arizona Sen. Paul Boyer (who retired himself) standing in the way.
We’re in for a wild ride: Using Arizona as its likely example, the Washington Post explains what happens if state officials refuse to certify an election. Basically, the winning candidate would sue and the courts would step in and legitimize the election if Kari Lake and crew refuse to. But watch out for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in a case that could give state officials more leeway to toss out election results they don’t like.
Pima goes on the offensive: Pima County is asking lawmakers to repeal a law that bars cities from advancing any kind of gun restriction ordinances at the local level, and since that’s not happening, the county supervisors asked Pima County Attorney Laura Conover look into avenues for a possible lawsuit. But as the Daily Star’s Nicole Ludden writes, the county attorney’s office has previously said a successful challenge isn’t likely.
Marijuana, before and after: More than 10,000 people in Maricopa County have had their marijuana convictions expunged, an important milestone in a county that is proactively filing the expungements, unlike many other Arizona counties, the Phoenix New Times reports. The alt-weekly also details how a young man from South Phoenix ended up in prison for more than a decade for selling an ounce of weed before the state voted to legalize it.
Worse than previously reported: In a follow-up story to his reporting last week about Border Patrol discriminating against Sikhs by confiscating their turbans, Arizona Luminaria’s John Washington writes that the practice extends beyond the Yuma sector and isn’t limited to turbans. Border Patrol also aren’t providing vegetarian meals, required by the Sikh religion.
2020 still reverberates: More than a year after most schools returned to in-person learning, teachers are still dealing with a host of post-pandemic problems, from staff shortages to behavioral and learning loss issues. The Republic’s Daniel Gonzales writes that educators from across the state met up last week to talk about their approaches, as schools are trying to come up with ways to help students that are falling behind or lashing out.
More MAGA, less Trump: Last week’s primary proved that Trumpism is alive and well in Arizona, though many GOP voters say they don’t want the former president to actually run for president again, the Washington Post reports. Republican voters told the Post that while they like Trump, he’s too hated, divisive and old, and that they like “the Florida guy” better for 2024.
She made it: Arizona lawyer Roopali Desai, who has worked for nearly every Democratic cause and candidate in town, including U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Katie Hobbs, was confirmed as a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, scoring broad bipartisan support. Sinema recommended the UA Law grad, who became the first South Asian woman on the court, the Republic notes.
Not about politics: Phoenix record store owner Mike Esposito called out a California company that reissues records for using digital files instead of purely master tapes, which is apparently a huge deal that we learned about from reading this Washington Post story.
The Ducey machine: Christina Corieri, the longest-serving staffer in the Ducey administration, has left the Ninth Floor for a senior consultant role at Consilium Consulting, which former Ducey chief of staff Kirk Adams runs.
Gone but not forgotten: We bid a fond farewell to Paola Tulliani Zen’s Twitter account, which brought us consistent joy and pig squeals. Zen deleted the account, ZforArizona, after her loss for governor.
Whoever’s running Maricopa County’s Twitter account deserves a raise. After receiving a barrage of harassment last week (but really, for the last two years) by people who don’t understand elections, the account got to work debunking.
The county blended snark with information to beat back rumors like the county calling races, the tabulation going too slow and who created the election system.