The Daily Agenda: Who doesn't like cake?
We're a sucker for anything called the Arizona (Voters') Agenda ... That's more names than a person should need ... And Kari loves Barack.
Reminder: There will be no Friday morning story from us in your inboxes tomorrow. If you’re really aching for some Agenda news, just bookmark our breaking story from Tuesday about the state budget to read later.
The Center for the Future of Arizona yesterday announced it will start rolling out the results of a comprehensive statewide survey that shows that voters don’t actually want political candidates to focus on hot-button issues and fiery sound bites — they want thoughtful, detailed policy plans to address Arizona’s most pressing problems.
Yet voters consistently reward partisan firebrands who dodge policy questions in favor of sound bites and eschew solutions in favor of attacks. If those tactics didn’t work, people wouldn’t vote for candidates that employ them and candidates would eventually quit using them.
In an op-ed in the Arizona Republic, Sybil Francis, head of the civic do-gooder organization, wrote that their data-driven look at what likely voters care about, which they dubbed the Arizona Voters’ Agenda, shows that “Arizonans across the political spectrum are consistent in what they value and what they want from their political leaders. The failure of political leaders to listen to Arizonans hasn’t changed their priorities.”
In some ways, the findings, which haven’t been released yet but build on a previous poll the group conducted, are obvious. Nearly everyone wants effective schools, high-paying jobs, smooth roads and clean water. The divide is always about how to achieve those goals.
And while the Center for Future of Arizona argues politicians aren’t listening to the voters and talking about these big issues as voters want, the poll highlights the disconnect between what voters say they want and what voters actually vote for.
Paul Bentz, the HighGround Public Affairs pollster behind the project, said he knows voters often present an idealized version of themselves to pollsters. We likened the poll to asking people how many vegetables they eat: They’d claim to eat far more than they actually do. But Bentz argued that analogy misses the bigger picture.
“It’s like (candidates are) busy talking about cake,” he said. “That’s the issue: We all agree vegetables are good and vegetables would be good for our economy, but candidates are over here shouting about cake.”
Even in primary elections, candidates don’t have to fall into that cake trap to win, he argued. While 65% of Republican primary voters want politicians to talk about banning critical race theory, for example, 95% want politicians to talk about expanding career and technical education options, he said. The former has almost no support with the broader electorate, while the latter is a winning issue across the entire political spectrum.
One of the aims of the poll is to show politicians that there’s a better way to campaign, Bentz said. It offers a playbook politicians can follow to talk about issues that all voters want to hear about. But it’s up to all of us involved in civic life — reporters, consultants and especially voters — to make candidates talk about important issues that unite us rather than the distractions that divide us.
“Is it like telling people to eat their vegetables? Sure,” he said. “But, you know, maybe one of the candidates will start talking about vegetables instead of cake.”
Another execution: Frank Atwood, convicted of kidnapping and murdering an 8-year-old girl, was executed by the state yesterday. The family of the girl said the execution served as “final justice” for their daughter. Atwood was the second death row inmate to be executed in the past month. Republic reporter Jimmy Jenkins, who watched the execution as a witness though not as part of the media pool, described what he saw.
Gabby continues to inspire: A film about former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ life, shooting and recovery that premiered at SXSW festival last month is set to be released on July 15. Deadline reports that the film, by RBG and Julia directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen, is seen as an “awards-season contender, with a 100% score so far on Rotten Tomatoes.” The trailer is a tearjerker.
That’s a lot of aliases: Republican U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko, AKA Debra Lorenz AKA Debra Harris AKA Debra Howard frequently draws on her experience as the victim of an abusive relationship prior to getting involved in politics, but she wouldn’t talk about her role in her career conman former husband’s scams when the Republic’s Ronald Hansen started following the paper trail of their joint legal troubles through the 80s and 90s. She accused the Republic of revictimizing her by asking the questions about that period in her life.
Video more complicated than tweet: The Green Valley News’ Dan Shearer tracked down the video of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters scuffling with an elderly liberal protester whom Masters accused of hitting a woman at a GOP event in town. According to Shearer, the woman delivered a right hook to the protester, who ended up the only one charged by police for the incident.
“He did not strike her, according to the video I saw. It was clearly a move to protect himself. Masters lunged at (the protester), put both hands around his neck and pushed him backward.”
This guy: U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs derided the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s hearing yesterday on gun violence, which included an 11-year-old survivor of the Uvalde shooting who covered herself in her classmate’s blood to play dead, because he said bringing the child to speak would be traumatizing to her and “tantamount to child abuse.”
The never-ending protest charges story: April Sponsel, the prosecutor at the center of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office gang charges against protestors, was given notice that the office intends to fire her, ABC15’s Dave Biscobing reports. The notice cited “extreme overcharging” by Sponsel in several cases. Sponsel has sued the county, saying she was thrown under the bus over the protest charges.
Possibly illegal: Lea Márquez Peterson, the chair of the Arizona Corporation Commission, wants the commission to start having “confidential briefings” to hear from business leaders about the state of the economy, which sounds like it could run afoul of the state’s open meetings law, the Arizona Daily Star’s David Wincher reports.
We need more housing: Demand for housing from low-income renters far outpaces available supply in the Phoenix area, the Republic’s Catherine Reagor and Amy Qin report. Even renters who have assistance from various programs can’t find landlords willing to rent to them.
“Too few apartments, a growing population, rent increases wildly outpacing income gains and a buying spree of Phoenix-area complexes by corporate investors has created a nightmare situation for many renters,” Reagor and Qin write.
We’ll never get out of here: The hits keep coming for the definitely-not-going-to-become-the-actual budget. Republican Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita told Axios the proposal was “garbage” and that she didn’t know “why a conservative would vote for it” given the increase in spending it presents. Meanwhile, Gov. Doug Ducey’s office said a chunk of more than $350 million in the budget draft set for border fencing would go “where it currently isn’t.” And the House adjourned til Monday.
Today in conspiracies Blake believes: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters floated a conspiracy to a GOP group that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol might have been a false-flag operation set up by the FBI, CNN reports based on tapes of the speech.
A new one of these every day: A claim going around the internet that Maricopa County accepted 18,000 ballots after Election Day is based on a document that actually refers to an incident when unopened ballot envelopes were given to a vendor for scanning, the vendor and the county told the Associated Press, which debunked the claim.
Cool nickname: Austin Steinbart, who is known as “Baby Q” in QAnon circles, claims he’s running the campaign for Jerone Davison, a Republican candidate in Congressional District 4, the seat currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton. Steinbart says he’s using the campaign to make QAnon beliefs more mainstream, Media Matters’ Alex Kaplan reports. This is in addition to the man who likely is Q himself, Ron Watkins, running for office in Congressional District 2.
Bon voyage: Fernanda Santos, a longtime Arizona-based journalist and former Phoenix bureau chief for the New York Times, is leaving the desert and heading back to the Big Apple, she announced on her Substack this week.
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The Arizona Senate voted to require police take DNA samples from everyone arrested for a felony crime rather than just certain crimes like homicide, sexual offenses and burglary.
The 20-8 vote drew bipartisan support and opposition as a handful of conservative Republicans sided with progressive Democrats in arguing it strips people of due process rights. Under House Bill 2102, people need not be convicted or even charged with a felony offense to have their DNA sample taken, but simply arrested.
The bill was introduced as a strike-everything amendment in the Senate, so must go back to the House for a full vote.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson took the attacks on primary rival Kari Lake’s campaign to the streets.
Robson’s campaign put up political signs around town depicting Lake alongside former President Barack Obama with the words “Kari Lake donated to Obama” on them.