The Daily Agenda: When does reconstruction start?
They passed out sporks at the door ... Constitutional is in the eye of the sheriff ... And forget the children, protect the senators.
With a little more than a week left to vote in the primary election, the two factions of the Republican Party continued their civil war over Arizona with dueling rallies Friday that were as different as the candidates themselves.
Former Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Doug Ducey assembled the suit-wearing Chamber of Commerce class of Republicans at a tactical supply shop (read: small business, but for guns) touting their gubernatorial candidate, Karrin Taylor Robson, as the responsible conservative who can actually win an election and lead the state.
Former President Donald Trump mustered his side — including Kari Lake, Blake Masters, Mark Finchem, Abe Hamadeh and Kelli Ward — at a jam-packed stadium in Prescott Valley and hammered their Republican opponents with insults, threats and taunts.
The Pence/Ducey/Robson event was as low-energy as Jeb(!) Bush on the campaign trail.
Robson pledged to continue the Ducey’s administration’s low tax, economically focused bread-and-butter agenda. The claps she drew were the obligatory kind — pause for applause — and her stump speech could have been ripped from Ducey’s 2014 run for governor, before the sea change that has engulfed the politics of the right since 2016. (Even their use of the song “Taking Care of Business” seemed extraordinarily out of place as Pence slow-walked up to the mic in front of the sparse crowd, grimacing as if the loud rock and roll hurt his ears.)
“I know, just as my mentor Ronald Reagan did, that families will always, always make better use of their own money than the federal government, or state government, or any government,” Robson said to a smattering of languid applause.
Team Trump/Lake/Finchem, meanwhile, painted the primary as a biblical battle between good and evil and promised a whole new era of crushing the RINOs and destroying the socialist Democrats at the overflowing Trumpapalooza-style event that was live-streamed on alt-right TV, complete with pregame and postgame analysis and commentary.
“Stand up if you’re ultra MAGA! ULTRAAAAA MAGAAAA! Wooo. Hey, I’m a proud member of the Orange Mafia!,” Ward screamed as the crowd quickly jumped to its feet.
It’s clear which side has the energy of the activist Republican ground troops. But we’re not going to read too much into the dueling rallies.
Robson offers the kind of campaigning that Republicans rejected when they embraced Trump’s whirlwind in 2016. Those boring politics made a resurgence by the end of Trump’s tenure just four years later, but have quickly fallen out of favor again among Republican activists. But we’re not convinced even the Republican voting populace is ready for a full-fledged return to the kind of daily dramas, scandals and displays of ignorance that marked Trump’s turbulent four years and that would be a mainstay of a Lake nomination or governorship.
The visions that Lake and Robson and their surrogate soldiers present are irreconcilably different. And only one side will be left standing on August 3.
We can’t picture Lake or Ward lining up to support Robson if she makes it through, and likewise can’t envision Robson on the Lake campaign trail. Maybe the all-GOP-hands-on-deck days of the past will return after Aug. 2, but Republicans are so far in the trenches of their own civil war that we can’t imagine them negotiating a truce after the primary election.
That leaves Democrats with an opening, should they know how to take it.
Late to the game: A federal judge said Gov. Doug Ducey’s program to give more money to schools that reject mask mandates and give vouchers to pull kids out of schools with strong COVID-19 policies wasn't above board, though it’s not clear what happens now, Capitol Media Services’ Howard Fischer reports. Schools and parents already got the money, and few, if any, schools still have COVID-19 mask mandates in place.
Double dip: The Arizona Department of Corrections hired prisoners from its own for-profit offshoot to fix prison cell doors, a long-running problem in prisons, the Republic’s Joseph Darius Jaafari reports. The self-funding helped Arizona Correctional Industries make money during the pandemic, when many of its outside clients dropped off.
These guys again: The so-called “constitutional sheriffs” are back, and they’re taking aim at the 2020 election results by teaming up with True the Vote, one of the groups behind the “2000 Mules” debacle, Reuters reports. You’ll notice some familiar Arizona names in this story, including former Graham County sheriff Richard Mack and current Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb.
People love free stuff: Residents in Pinal County got free tuition at Central Arizona College, the county’s community college, last year, resulting in massive increases in enrollment at a time when community college enrollments were down nationally, the Republic’s Alison Steinbach reports. The college used federal COVID-19 relief funds to make the year of free tuition happen, though it’s still discounting tuition this coming year as well.
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Slow to fix: Navajo communities living with the effects of uranium contamination want more action and compensation to clean up and deal with the negative impacts the uranium has had on the environment and their lives, the Republic’s Arlyssa Becenti reports.
Dave gets results: An unlicensed psychologist and unlicensed nurse who were featured in ABC15 reporter Dave Biscobing’s stories were recently charged for using fake or stolen identities to do their medical work. Separately, Biscobing reports on a lawsuit filed by a former patient at the Arizona State Hospital who contends he was secluded for more than 600 days and subjected to treatment that “borders on torture.”
Have they met humans?: The lawsuit from GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and super-tan secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem that claims ballot tabulation machines are suspect got a hearing last week, 12News’ Joe Dana reports. Hand counting ballots, as Lake suggests to resolve debunked claims about tabulation machines, would take incredible staffing (and the money to pay for it) and be less accurate.
Help needed: Funding for mental health in K-12 schools finally got a boost because of COVID-19 funds from the state education department, but that funding is temporary at a time when schools have a high need for trained mental health providers, the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting’s Maria Polletta and Shaena Montanari report. The Legislature put some funding forward for school safety, but prioritized requests for law enforcement officers on campus over counselors.
“You have a parent give you a call and say, ‘You know what, our family’s going through a really tough time right now, and our kid’s having a hard time. Do you have a counselor that my child can speak to when they come to school today?’” Safford Unified District Superintendent AJ Taylor told AZCIR. “And when we don’t have that, that’s really difficult.”
New writer alert: Barbara Rodriguez Mundell, a former Maricopa County judge, is now contributing to the Republic’s opinion pages. In her first piece, she questions why ethics complaints against public lawyers aren’t public information. For prosecutors whose jobs are publicly funded and in place to protect the public, any ethics complaints should be public knowledge, too. Currently, ethics complaints aren’t public unless they rise to a certain level, and lawyers can make settlements to lessen them.
It’s still 2022: U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego is raring to take on U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in a 2024 Democratic primary, as the Phoenix congressman now fundraises off the prospect of a Senate run. Republic reporter Gregory Svirnovskiy notes a Facebook ad from Gallego that teases at a Senate run as a reason to donate, though Gallego’s office said he won’t decide on a Senate run until 2023.
A police problem: In a follow-up to her story about Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsements, Axios’ Jessica Boehm looks into how Democrats endorsed by the group are now confronting questions on the campaign trail from Republicans and police over the way the endorsements required candidates to reject financial support from police unions.
Get well soon: Congressional candidate Jerone Davison, a Republican running in Congressional District 4, was hospitalized after a “serious, life-threatening blood infection,” the candidate said on Twitter. He is now recovering, but will need another surgery.
There’s a lot of open seats in the new Legislative District 18, nestled in the heart of liberal Tucson, and a lot of Democrats are running to fill them.
Longtime progressive lawmakers Sen. Victoria Steele and Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley are not seeking re-election. Only Chris Mathis, husband of former Arizona Redistricting Chair Colleen Mathis and an appointee who replaced former Democratic Rep. Randy Friese when he resigned from the Legislature last year to seek Congress (then mysteriously dropped out of that race, too), is hoping to return to the Capitol.
But Mathis, a lawyer and professor of practice at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law, has a lot of competition in the race for one of the two House seats in the district, which covers northern and eastern Tucson.
Also seeking a seat in the House are Nathan Davis, a former teacher who runs an interior design company while still substituting on the side; Nancy Gutierrez, a yoga teacher at Tucson High School who co-owns a youth yoga company; Kat Stratford, domestic violence survivor and regional director for the state Democratic Party who has the backing of the city’s political elite; and Charlie Verdin, the owner of Fangamer, a video game retail company, whose mom thinks he’s cool and whose employees made this cute video about him.
Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Morgan Abraham, who was appointed to the House in the old LD101, is trying to move up to the Senate. He’s a housing developer and intelligence officer in the Army Reserve. In the primary, he’ll face Democrat Priya Sundareshan, a natural resources law professor at UA who has the backing of Tucson politicos like U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva and Mayor Regina Romero, as well as Planned Parenthood.
Republicans Stan Caine and Linda Evans are seeking the Senate and House, respectively, but don’t have much of a shot in this deep blue district.
Thanks to the subscriber who sent us this little gem from a Blake Masters sign. There are, in fact, age limits to serving in the U.S. Senate — though maybe he just means he’ll protect the immature senators…
The grammar is also confusing on this Masters sign, assuming that the candidate won’t ask your pronouns outside of the Senate, either.
The new LD18 includes some overlap with the old LD10, but is more closely related to the old LD9.