Welcome to the Arizona Agenda
Strap yourself in for a wild ride.
All roads lead to Arizona politics. Big national stories start and end here, in our weird little world. Arizona is no longer a political curiosity: We increasingly hold major weight and importance in the future of our country. We’re the main event.
But the national parachute reporting doesn’t capture who calls the shots and why that matters to us locals.
The decisions state lawmakers and city council members make affect your daily life. They decide how much you pay in taxes and whether there’s a park in your neighborhood. They decide how old eggs on the shelf at the local store can be, how long your contact lens prescription lasts. The stuff that matters.
We’re here to guide you through the bizarre and the important, and we’ll have a damn good time doing it.
Welcome to the Arizona Agenda, an insider’s guide to Arizona politics for the political outsider.
Between our daily updates and deeper reported articles, we’ll keep you up to date on everything you need to know about Arizona government and politics, all in your inbox.
We want to empower Arizonans to understand government at all levels. So we’re going to tell you everything we know about Arizona politics and government, and investigate the answers to your burning questions.
There will be some snark and some spice, some storytelling, some explainers, some public records dives, some gossip. But mostly, we’ll just provide facts and point fingers.
Unlike your other news options, we will be dependent entirely on revenue from readers — and that means we exist to serve you, not some billionaire political donor or corporation thousands of miles away.
But to do that, we need your support.
Our deepest thanks to those of you who ponied up to support our work. Our even deeper thanks to those of you who signed up as “founding members” (the first of whom was Rachel’s dad).
Those of you who haven’t signed up as paying subscribers yet, think of it this way: Would you buy us a beer once a month to hear all the crazy stories we can dig up about Arizona politics and government? Of course you would! That’s all we’re asking.
The New York Times, Washington Post and Politico constantly remind us that Arizona is the “epicenter of American politics” but they don’t have staff reporters based here full time.
The local papers say government and politics reporting is their bread and butter, but they don't pay beat reporters enough to stick around and learn the beat.
We’ve been around the block long enough to know who really calls the shots. And we’ll tell stories that show you why that matters.
Please drop us a line. Let us know how our journalism is working (or not) for you. We want your tips and scoops and story ideas, too.
Think of the Agenda as a hub where political power brokers and regular folks can come together to discuss ideas and argue about politics, like before blogs sucked and the Twitter death scroll consumed our lives.
Click the subscribe button and grab your wallet to come along for the ride.
What am I getting?
As a subscriber, you’ll receive our morning rundown of the day in Arizona politics Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, we publish original reporting and an additional feature (usually a short podcast).
Subscribers will also receive a newsletter rounding up the most important headlines alongside our own reported scoops, gossip and tidbits.
We promise you this: Our newsletter won’t be boring.
It’ll be like that meme where the kid laughs and then he cries while being asked a question on the news: You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll probably be a little pissed.
We’re building a publication that serves your interests, not some corporate overlord, not wealthy donors and certainly not any political party. And we won’t be doing clickbait, although we hope to get plenty of clicks for the right reasons.
Our elected officials work for us. Our stories will come back to that concept. We will hold the powerful to account, crush bureaucrats under the weight of our public records requests and highlight the work of the unsung political heroes.
If that sounds like the sort of voice that Arizona needs, please join us by clicking on the button below.
About the two people writing this thing
So who are we? We’re two Arizona journalists taking a leap of faith that people are willing to pay for a political newsletter about our delightfully weird state.
But if you need more than that, here’s a bit about us:
Rachel Leingang has covered government, politics and higher education in Arizona since 2015, first at the Arizona Capitol Times, then The Arizona Republic. She has a master’s from Arizona State University, which is how she ended up here in 2012. Phoenix was cheap then! She’s from North Dakota (and will never let you forget it), enjoys writing rom-com plots in the Notes app and is even kinda liked by people who hate her.
Hank Stephenson has written about Arizona for national outlets like The New York Times, Politico Magazine and Columbia Journalism Review. But he’s a community reporter at heart. He was most recently editor and meme-maker at Yellow Sheet Report, a political tipsheet with a cult following, and has covered Arizona politics and government since 2008. He enjoys political gossip, public records and comeuppances.
Our journalism has won a host of awards in previous venues, and we both have been recognized as among the state’s best journalists.
How much does it cost?
It costs less than a $11 cocktail. Because it’s $10 per month. If you sign up for a year, you pay a discounted $100 annually. About nine cocktails per year! 1
Founding members who really, really like us can pay $250 per year and receive a shoutout and five additional subscriptions for people they want to bequeath this honor upon. Be an office hero! Buy your coworkers a subscription.
We quit our jobs in corporate journalism to take a chance at something completely different. Substack offered us a grant that will finance our meager lifestyles for one year as part of the inaugural dozen winners of the (prestigious) Substack Local program.
But if we’re going to keep doing this, we need your help. Our long-term viability relies on paid subscribers.
The fact is, corporate-owned outlets are never going to re-invest your subscription into growing their newsrooms. They’re only interested in growing shareholder profits. We have no shareholders and we aren’t interested in getting rich. We’ll take your money and pump it directly back into serving you.
You’re one of us now
If you have stories you want to see or pitches to make, let us know. We consider all tips anonymous, so never hesitate to send us the hot goss.
If you heard about something wild happening in Arizona government, we’d love to hear about it, no matter if it was at Game and Fish, at the Board of Barbers, at the Casa Grande City Council, at the Chandler school board, or anywhere in between.
20 cocktails at the kinds of bars we frequent