The Daily Agenda: The Q man runs
Tom couldn't be happier ... It's time to IRC what district you're in ... And Sweet Home Arizona is back on top of the charts.
Just when you thought Arizona politics can’t get weirder, Q, AKA CodeMonkeyZ, AKA Ron Watkins is actually running for Congress in the northeastern Arizona district currently represented by Tom O’Halleran.
In a streamed video he shot outside the AG’s Office, Watkins congratulated Attorney General Mark Brnovich for investigating election fraud and declared that he’s going to fix these fraudulent elections “from the inside of the machine.”
Watkins cleverly dubbed O’Halleran “Tom O’Hooligan,” claimed he’s not fit to represent “anyone anywhere” (the irony!) and bizarrely declared O’Halleran the dirtiest Democrat of them all (that’s probably the first time O’Halleran has been declared the most anything).
Needless to say, O’Halleran is stoked.
Watkins told the Republic in an exclusive interview (LOL) that he’s not Q and he doesn’t pay attention to QAnon theory, that he spent time in Yuma as a kid, though he was fuzzy on when, and that he “has an address” in Sedona and is staying in the Phoenix area.
He’s already working on a bill to prohibit the government from censoring online content (maybe he means the 1st Amendment?), saying he thinks the government told Big Tech to censor stories like the stolen laptop belonging to President Joe Biden’s son and terrible artist, Hunter Biden. (Tech firms chose to limit sharing of that story themselves due to disputes about its veracity.)
He also seemed wholly unaware of redistricting — declaring that he’s attempting to challenge O’Halleran because he’s “low-hanging fruit” in his competitive district, which, of course, won’t exist by the next election.
“He’s in a very competitive district,” Watkins told the Republic. “I have a strong chance to win out there.”
Arizona may be weird as hell, but Watkins does not have any chance of winning, so we’ll try to leave his name out of our newsletter from here on out, if at all possible.
FWIW, we also tried to get in touch with Watkins, but a man named Tony from New Jersey who is working for the campaign called us Saturday and said he would need to vet us before putting us in touch with Watkins since there are a lot of operatives posing as local reporters.
Tony wouldn’t say who in the local press corps is an operative, and it wasn’t clear who they’re allegedly operating for, but we assume with this item we’ll be put squarely on the operative list.
If, like us, you’ve been wondering when you actually need to start paying attention to Arizona’s redistricting process — the answer is probably about now. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission on Friday inked the third iteration of maps. They’re not the finished version, but they’re past the preliminary stage.
The IRC website is not exactly intuitive, but it’s worth creating a profile now and looking up your district. If you don’t like what you see, there’s still time to change it. Or at least there’s time to lobby the IRC to change it.
To get started, click here, set up an account and log in. Then click “open” on the file toolbar on the top. Click the “Shared Plans” file and select “Draft Maps.” Click on the latest versions of the congressional or legislative district maps (versions 3.0 — 3.5 for congressional maps, versions 3.0 — 3.2 for legislative maps).
From there, you can view the latest boundaries, run reports for data about the districts and more.
We know that seems like a lot of work and you’re probably wondering: Why should I care about tweaks in political map boundaries?
Well, for example, Hank was originally drawn in Congressional District 1, which covered part of downtown Phoenix and stretched out to Scottsdale, Fountain Hills and Paradise Valley. But in the latest versions, he’s in Congressional District 3, which stretches the opposite way, taking in part of downtown Phoenix and south Phoenix, west to Glendale and Laveen.
In other words, with the stroke of a pen, Hank went from a competitive district that just narrowly selected Biden as president, to a Dem district where Biden won by a 3-1 margin.
In the early draft, a moderate Republican might have been able to represent Hank’s neighborhood. In the latest draft, only a liberal Democrat can win the district.
Lies are lies, fact check finds: Kari Lake got the CNN fact check treatment, something of a rite of passage for lying politicians. You will be surprised to find out that Lake’s repeated, false claims about the election being stolen are, in fact, false. We’re sure this CNN story will convince her.
In other Lake news: She’s holding a fundraiser at Mar-A-Lago now that she’s got the Trump endorsement, and it ain’t cheap.
We don’t charge Mar-A-Lago prices. For just $7 a month you can support local journalism with no billionaire donors or corporate overlords.
Don’t wanna lose that precious federal money: Some of the state’s largest employers will require COVID-19 vaccination — the three state universities. Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University said their federal funding and contracts require their employees, including student workers, to get the vaccine, according to President Joe Biden’s new rules. Students still won’t be required to get the vaccine, the Republic’s Alison Steinbach reports.
The incompetence extends to public records: The Arizona Republic wants the public records law-flouting Cyber Ninjas to be held in contempt for continuing to refuse to turn over records, despite judges’ insistence they do so. The Arizona Senate got another legal admonishment from a different judge last week for erroneously claiming “legislative privilege” shielded some audit communications.
If clubs are outlawed, only outlaws will have clubs: Great Hearts, a chain of charter schools, doesn’t allow student-led clubs anymore, saying the move stemmed from a “measure of accountability to each student and their families,” whatever that means. But some students say the clubs were an integral part of their school experience, and banning them seems like an attempt to limit ideas the schools don’t agree with, KJZZ’s Rocío Hernandez reports.
Nonpartisan in name only: A new school boards group claiming to be nonpartisan and seeking to provide an alternative to the Arizona School Boards Association is actually run by well-known conservatives, suggesting the board isn’t very nonpartisan at all, the Capitol Times’ Kyra Haas reports. AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward’s daughter, Katie, is the executive director of the new group, the Arizona Coalition of School Board Members. And Pam Kirby, the party’s first vice chair, is the coalition’s board president.
Help, my professor keeps making the New York Times!: The State Press’ Piper Hansen checked in with students for their opinions on ASU professor and U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — including one who took Sinema’s class. That student said Sinema’s class felt both strange and normal. (We looked up Sinema’s professorial reviews recently on Rate My Professors, a problematic site, and found many thought she was more or less a good professor.)
"It was awkward having to do an assignment for her after finding out that she voted against raising the minimum wage," Erika Garcia, a student who took Sinema’s class, said.
There’s gotta be some better names out there: Some schools, parks, streets and properties in Tempe are named after people who were members of the Ku Klux Klan, the city found in its own research. The city plans to discuss what to do about that, reports the Republic’s Haleigh Kochanski.
Check the box and don’t cry fraud: There’s a new box on mail-in ballots this election, asking voters to check it and return it to the post office if the person the ballot is addressed to no longer lives at the address. Maybe the box, required by a new state law, will help people deeply suspicious of voting by preventing ballots from old addresses.
How much does it cost to register one young voter?: NextGen America, Tom Steyer’s lefty advocacy group, plans to spend many more millions in Arizona this election cycle to help turn out young voters. The organization has been active here for a couple cycles now.
Fingers crossed for fewer deaths: New Arizona laws that legalized syringe access programs and fentanyl test strips should help save lives, KJZZ’s Ben Giles reports. Arizona Sen. Nancy Barto originally opposed needle exchanges, but changed her mind after learning more. And Arizona Sen. Christine Marsh shared how her son’s death from a laced pill made the law more personal. In case you missed our story last week, we dove into what has happened since Arizona passed the 2018 opioid act: Overdoses have spiked.
The Arizona Memory Project digitized more records that’ll make it easier for people to do some research. They added the Arizona Administrative Code and Legislative Bill Files from 1991 to 1996 to their collections. You can find them and other Memory Project collections online here.
“You want the nunchucks. You got the nunchucks,” Arizona Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Mark Brnovich tweeted on Friday. People want to see more ‘chucks, he claimed. We have just one question: Who, exactly, asked for this? Republic reporter Jimmy Jenkins tweeted a records request, asking for video outtakes and planning communications for the video. (We want the records, too.) And Tony Cani, in a genius move, mashed up Brno’s nunchucks video with AG candidate Rodney Glassman’s hit “Sweet Home Arizona” — the classic and still mocked campaign video he shot for his failed 2010 run for U.S. Senate against John McCain.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Aaron Lieberman will speak to the Democrats of Greater Tucson at noon today. You can attend via Zoom here.
This isn’t til Tuesday, but so you have enough time to plan a road trip: The first of the audit town halls with Ken Bennett is tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Tucson, at the Hilton Garden Inn at the Airport, 6575 S Country Club Road. You can register to attend and find streaming info here.