Sunday, December 07, 2014

Short attention span musing - not quite riding off into the sunset (and more, and worse) edition

...Most of this post will focus on the goings-on/bad behavior of some of Arizona's Republicans, but I have to lead off with one positive note:

Congratulations to Randy Keating, friend and immediate past chair of the LD26 Democrats (Tempe and West Mesa) on his election as 2nd Vice Chair of the Maricopa Democratic Party!  His energy and smarts will help guide the MCDP in its quest to restore some rationality to Maricopa County politics.  Plus he's a hell of an organizer and knows a lot about what LDs here want and need to do to make gains.

...Apparently, outgoing AZSOS Ken Bennett has no desire to drift back from whence he came (aka - Prescott).  He's the newly-elected chair of the LD24 Republicans (mostly east and central Phoenix) -

...Perennial candidate Vernon Parker also isn't fading away.

From the website of the Maricopa County Republican-

Don't be shocked if Parker (or a proxy) goes after Rep. Eric Meyer (D-LD28) in 2016.  The Rs in that district absolutely *hate* the fact that there is a Democratic legislator from that district and go after him hard every cycle.  I expect Parker to use his deep-pocketed contacts to fund a run at Meyer.

...Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio may not be feeling too festive this holiday season.

From the Arizona Republic, written by Sean Holstege -
U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow was telling him [Sheriff Joe Arpaio] Thursday that there was "a very real possibility" he would refer the popular sheriff to the U.S. Attorney's Office for criminal prosecution on contempt-of-court charges, later noting, "I fully intend to."

It was the latest showdown in a class-action civil-rights case that has dragged on since 2007.

That case, brought on behalf of Latinos who said immigration sweeps by the Sheriff's Office violated their civil rights, ended with a settlement and the imposition of a federal monitor to ensure it doesn't happen again.

...The unofficial title of the chief of staff for Governor-elect Doug Ducey (R) should be "Director of Dark Money".

From the Associated Press, via
Governor-elect Doug Ducey has chosen former Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams to be his chief of staff when he takes office next month.

Adams is already serving as co-chair of Ducey's transition committee and will continue in that role.

The "dark money" part?

From an op-ed published by the Arizona Republic in 2012, written by David Berman, a senior researcher at the ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy -
Americans for Responsible Leadership, an obscure Arizona-based 501(c)(4) non-profit headed by former Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams and with no history of political activity in California, contributed funds to two political action committees there. One committee supported an anti-union initiative and the other opposed a tax increase, both on the California ballot in 2012.
The money, ultimately spent on political advertising, came to Americans for Responsible Leadership through a convoluted network of dark-money non-profit groups in Virginia and Iowa associated with the Koch brothers.

...The Arizona House of Representatives announced the committee assignments for the upcoming session.

From a press release -

Agriculture, Water and Lands (Thursday morning)
Chair – Brenda Barton, Vice Chair – Darin Mitchell, Regina Cobb, Karen Fann, Steve Montenegro, T.J. Shope, Jennifer Benally, Rosanna Gabaldon, Lisa Otondo

Appropriations (Wednesday afternoon)
Chair – Justin Olson, Vice Chair – Vince Leach, John Allen, Russell “Rusty” Bowers, Rick Gray, Warren Petersen, Tony Rivero, David Stevens, Michelle Ugenti, Lela Alston, Mark Cardenas, Stefanie Mach, Eric Meyer, Andrew Sherwood

Banking and Financial Services (Tuesday afternoon)
Chair – Kate Brophy McGee, Vice Chair – Jeff Weninger, John Allen, Eddie Farnsworth, Jill Norgaard, Diego Espinoza, Rosanna Gabaldon, Debbie McCune Davis

Children and Family Affairs (Monday afternoon)
Chair – John Allen, Vice Chair – Kate Brophy McGee, John Christopher Ackerley, Regina Cobb, Phil Lovas, Kelly Townsend, Sally Ann Gonzales, Juan Jose Mendez, Rebecca Rios

Commerce (Wednesday morning)
Chair – Warren Petersen, Vice Chair – Jill Norgaard, Jay Lawrence, Tony Rivero, T.J. Shope, Diego Espinoza, Charlene Fernandez, Stefanie Mach

County and Municipal Affairs (Monday afternoon)
Chair – Doug Coleman, Vice Chair – Tony Rivero, Paul Boyer, Karen Fann, Rick Gray, Lela Alston, Reginald Bolding, Rosanna Gabaldon

Education (Wednesday afternoon)
Chair – Paul Boyer, Vice Chair – Jay Lawrence, Doug Coleman, Jill Norgaard, Bob Thorpe, Reginald Bolding, Lisa Otondo

Elections (Tuesday morning)
Chair – Michelle Ugenti, Vice Chair – J.D. Mesnard, Heather Carter, Jeff Weninger, Ken Clark, Jonathan Larkin

Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (Monday afternoon)
Chair – Frank Pratt, Vice Chair – Russell “Rusty” Bowers, Brenda Barton, Heather Carter, Mark Finchem, Vince Leach, Ken Clark, Macario Saldate, Victoria Steele

Federalism and States’ Rights (Wednesday morning)
Chair – Kelly Townsend, Vice Chair – Noel Campbell, Mark Finchem, Darn [sic] Mitchell, Bob Thorpe, Rebecca Rios, Ceci Velasquez, Bruce Wheeler

Government and Higher Education (Thursday morning)
Chair – Thorpe, Vice Chair – Ackerley, Phil Lovas, Justin Olson, Warren Petersen, Kelly Townsend, Lela Alston, Jonathan Larkin, Macario Saldate

Health (Tuesday afternoon)
Chair – Heather Carter, Vice Chair – Regina Cobb, Paul Boyer, Jay Lawrence, Randall “Randy” Friese, Eric Meyer

Judiciary (Wednesday morning)
Chair – Eddie Farnsworth, Vice Chair – Sonny Borrelli, Anthony Kern, J.D. Mesnard, Randall “Randy” Friese, Albert Hale

Military Affairs and Public Safety (Thursday morning)
Chair – Sonny Borrelli, Vice Chair – Mark Finchem, Noel Campbell, Eddie Farnsworth, Anthony Kern, Frank Pratt, Richard Andrade, Mark Cardenas, Stefanie Mach

Rules (Monday afternoon)
Chair – David Stevens, Vice Chair – Steve Montenegro, David Gowan, David Livingston, Bob Robson, Bob Thorpe, Albert Hale, Ceci Velasquez, Bruce Wheeler

Rural and Economic Development (Tuesday afternoon)
Chair – T.J. Shope, Vice Chair – Russell “Rusty” Bowers, Brenda Barton, Vince Leach, Frank Pratt, Jennifer Benally, Sally Ann Gonzales, Juan Jose Mendez

Transportation and Infrastructure (Tuesday afternoon)
Chair – Rick Gray, Vice Chair – David Stevens, John Christopher Ackerley, Sonny Borrelli, Noel Campbell, Karen Fann, Richard Andrade, Charlene Fernandez, Victoria Steele

Ways and Means (Monday afternoon)
Chair – Darin Mitchell, Vice Chair – Anthony Kern, J.D. Mesnard, Justin Olson, Michelle Ugenti, Jeff Weninger, Mark Cardenas, Andrew Sherwood, Bruce Wheeler

 - No commentary on these yet...

...Finally, the LD26 Republicans seem to have established a new holiday season tradition.

Honor the massacre of 27 people by Adam Lanza (his mother, 6 school staff members, and 20 children) in Newtown, CT by giving away an AR15, a higher-end version of the weapon used in the massacre.

From the announcement webpage for their holiday "party" -

For those who can't quite make out the small print -

Not the first time that they've done this.  From 2013 -

And doing this in a school?  Kind of craven, even for this bunch.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

AZ Lege 2015: the first one out of the gate is...

Well, you can tell the start of a new legislative session is nigh when legislators start "pre-filing" bills.

Generally speaking, such early bills are no more successful than bills that are filed once the session starts (for various reasons, most bill proposals don't go anywhere).

However, they serve as good discussion fodder during the political equivalent of baseball's "hot stove" season.

This year, the first legislator to have bills posted on the lege's website is Representative, and soon-to-be State Senator, John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills).

He has filed SB1001, "nuclear emergency appropriations; assessments" and SB1002, "prisoners; compensation for labor performed".

SB1001 is a relatively non-controversial measure to fund nuclear emergency planning for two fiscal years, with the funds coming from an assessment (aka - tax) on the operators of the state's nuclear power generating station.  Versions of this have passed before; this one will probably see smooth sailing and pass in 2015.

SB1002, however, could see some major headwinds.

It would triple the maximum compensation that a prisoner in a state, or privately-operated, prison could receive for their labor, with certain exceptions.

Don't get too excited - the current limit is 50 cents per hour; tripling that still leaves the compensation at barely above "slave wage" levels.

Even that, though, may be too rich for legislators who like to score political points by beating up on appearing tough toward those that they consider to be weaker than them.

More importantly, given Kavanagh's close relationship with the private prison industry and the fact that this bill would cost the industry money, the bill probably won't pass as is.

Caveat: there could be some backroom finagling going on here, some nuance to this that I do not see right now where the ultimate beneficiaries of this are the private prisons, or the companies that contract for the use of prison labor.

It could just die a quiet death (not get taken up by a committee, or not see floor action if it does pass committee).

It could be watered down (increase the compensation limit, but by a smaller amount).

Finally, it could be utilized as a "vehicle" bill (have the guts of the bill stripped out and replaced the text of another, via a "strike everything amendment", aka - a "striker").

Whatever the ultimate fates of these two bills, they are just the first of 1000?  1200?  more? proposals that the lege will consider.

Can't say that I think it will be a "fun" ride, but it should be an interesting one...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ferguson thoughts...

While I try to make this blog an informative one (especially on the subject of the doings of the Arizona legislature), its genesis was as a place to vent.

One of the reasons that I haven't written about the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri is that there are so many thoughts trying to get out that I haven't been able to organize them.

However, the time that has passed hasn't done anything to help those thoughts simmer down, so it is time to return this blog to its roots - as a vent.

Here goes -

1.  Have no doubt: the prosecutor in the case, Bob McCulloch, tanked the case.

There's an aphorism about prosecutors being able to indict a ham sandwich.  I don't know if it is 100% accurate, but if that ham sandwich was stolen, almost all he would have needed to indict Wilson would have been to show that Wilson was in the same time zone as the sandwich when it went missing.

Nearly all grand juries do exactly what the prosecutors leading them want done.

Of course, given that McCulloch is the president of an organization that raised money for Wilson's defense, that appears to be exactly what happened in this case.

2. There have been people, perhaps people of good intent, who have looked to rationalize the police response to this situation by saying something along the lines of "well, the police deal with people at their worst so that it isn't a surprise" that Wilson thought that Brown was a demon, before Wilson shot and killed Brown. Those same people use the same "logic" to rationalize police predisposition to violence toward members of minority communities.

Believe it or not, that can be worked with - if it is acceptable to pass judgement on an entire community based on the bad behavior of a few individual members of that community, then it *is*.

As Darren Wilson is a bigoted murderer; so are all members of the "blue wall".

Don't like it?  (And you shouldn't)

Too bad.  That's how stereotypes work.

For the record: I believe that in our society, there is no one more worthy of respect than a good cop.

As for my definition of  "good"?  Well, the Darren Wilsons of that world and the "go along to get along" types who have aided and abetted him need not apply...

3.  As horrific as it is, police violence toward minorities (and non-LEO folks who aren't 1%-ers) isn't the most pressing issue.

Sad to say, but there are always going to be bad apples in any group.

In other words, even in a group that is mostly decent human beings and honorable public servants, there is always going to be an element that is bigoted, vicious, and/or corrupt.

The biggest problem is the pervasive "code of silence" that suffuses the LEO subculture.  Until that is addressed, until their loyalty is given to the civil society pays their salaries and grant them their authority before it is given to the blue wall, then the Darren Wilsons of the world will continue to be the face of the American law enforcement community.

And as long as Wilson and his ilk *are* the face of American law enforcement, the LEO community will have more authority than credibility.  That's not just a problem for the LEO community; it undermines trust in society overall.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

First reactions to the President's speech on immigration

Mine: "What?  No mention of deporting Ted Cruz and Justin Bieber?"

Republicans (via Fox News):  "Impeach him!"

Democrats: (via MSNBC): "Canonize him!"

My real reaction: 

An OK start, but it doesn't address the root causes of undocumented/illegal immigration - economic reality.

A good job in Mexico pays less than a lousy job in the US.

The immigration issue won't change until the economics driving it change (and that's not a wish that the Rs get their fondest dream of having all jobs in the US lousy jobs).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Luckily, self-awareness isn't required for members of the AZ lege

...Well, *lucky* for them, anyway...

Saw this on my Twitter feed today:

At first, I was a little confused as to why this was on my feed, as I don't follow RedState (I know, you're shocked ;) ).

Then I noticed that it was, in fact, a retweet from someone that I *do* follow on Twitter.

Rep. David Livingston (R-Peoria). 

As a member of the state lege, he is part of the government that he and RedState believes is so disrespectful; as the newly-elected House Majority Whip, he is one of the most powerful people in the most powerful branch of Arizona government.

I'm guessing that he wasn't being ironic when he retweeted RedState's tweet, so either he is so self-UNaware that it borders on irony, or he believes that the people who buy into this stuff are idiots.

Obviously, I can't speak for him (not a mind-reader here), but I'm not going to sell him short - he can do both.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2015 Arizona Legislature leadership and committee chairs

In the Arizona House of Representatives -

Democratic leadership:

Rep. Eric Meyer, Minority Leader
Rep. Bruce Wheeler, Assistant Minority Leader
Rep. Rebecca Rios, Minority Whip

Republican leadership:

Rep. David Gowan, Speaker
Rep. Steve Montenegro, Majority Leader
Rep. David Livingston, Majority Whip
Rep. Bob Robson, Speaker Pro-Tempore

Committee chairs (because the Rs are the majority in the House, all committee chairs are Republicans):

Agriculture, Water and Lands – Representative Brenda Barton, LD-6
Appropriations – Representative Justin Olson, LD-25
Banking and Financial Services – Representative Kate Brophy McGee, LD-28
Children and Family Affairs – Representative John Allen, LD-15
Commerce – Representative Warren Petersen, LD-12
County and Municipal Affairs – Representative Doug Coleman, LD-16
Education – Representative Paul Boyer, LD-20
Elections – Representative Michelle Ugenti, LD-23
Energy, Environment and Natural Resources – Representative Frank Pratt, LD-8
Federalism and States' Rights – Representative Kelly Townsend, LD-16
Government and Higher Education – Representative Bob Thorpe, LD-6
Health – Representative Heather Carter, LD-15
Insurance – Representative Karen Fann, LD-1
Judiciary – Representative Eddie Farnsworth, LD-12
Military Affairs and Public Safety – Representative Sonny Borrelli, LD-5
Rules – Representative David Stevens, LD-14
Rural and Economic Development – Representative T.J. Shope, LD-8
Transportation and Infrastructure – Representative Rick Gray, LD-21
Ways and Means – Representative Darin Mitchell, LD-13

In the Arizona State Senate -

Democratic Leadership:

Sen. Katie Hobbs, Minority Leader
Sen. Steve Farley, Minority Whip
Sen.-elect Lupe Contreras, Minority Co-Whip
Sen.-elect Martin Quezada, Minority Co-Whip
Sen. David Bradley, Minority Leader Pro-Tem
Sen. Barbara McGuire, Rural Liaison

Republican Leadership:

Sen. Andy Biggs, Senate President
Sen. Steve Yarbrough, Majority Leader
Sen. Gail Griffin, Majority Whip

Committee chairs (as with the House, all Rs):

Appropriations                                                      Sen. Don Shooter
Health & Human Services                                    Sen. Nancy Barto
Natural Resources                                                 Sen. Steve Pierce
Energy                                                                   Sen. Gail Griffin
Education                                                              Sen. Kelli Ward
Commerce & Workforce Development                Sen. Kimberly Yee
Judiciary                                                                Sen. Adam Driggs
Transportation                                                       Sen. Bob Worsley
Federalism, Mandates & Fiscal Responsibility    Sen. Judy Burges
Financial Institutions                                            Sen. David Farnsworth
Government                                                          Sen.-elect John Kavanagh
Finance                                                                 Sen.-elect Debbie Lesko
Public Safety, Military & Technology                 Sen.-elect Steve Smith
State Debt & Budget Reform                               Sen.-elect Jeff Dial
Rural Affairs & Environment                              Sen.-elect Sylvia Allen

One brief commentary:  Is it just me, or did they go out of the way to give nearly R with a pulse a committee this time around?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hey, Douglas supporters: Ignorance doesn't become you

When Diane Douglas, a single-issue "negative" candidate for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, she shocked most observers.

She had no campaign platform other than an almost implacable opposition to the set of education standards known as "Common Core.

She did almost no campaigning, other than a few appearances at "safe" events.

She had almost no support among the state's education or business communities.

She still won.

And now, her supporters are coming out of the woodwork to proclaim the reasons behind their support for Douglas, and, in a surprise to no one,  the "reasons" are stunningly ignorant.

From a letter to the editor, published in the Arizona Republic on Friday, written by Ray Himmelberg -

Using history and experience as a guide, I prejudged and saw Democrat next to Garcia's name and inferred a willingness to raise my taxes without proper oversight and unfettered deference to the teachers union. the state level in Arizona, there are only two entities with the authority to raise taxes, and neither one is the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

One is the legislature, and they would rather see the roofs of AZ's schools cave in and crush AZ's students than increase any tax.

The other is the voters of Arizona themselves, who have shown themselves willing to do just that.

Now, like any other citizen, from the governor to the newest resident of AZ, the SPI can suggest or support a proposed tax increase.  However, he or she doesn't have the authority to do anything to increase taxes.

As for Mr. Himmelberg's stereotyping of all Democrats?  Let's leave that for another time.

In his letter, Mr. Himmelberg displays a propensity for ignorance and simplistic "reasoning".  In this, he is consistent, at least.

In 2012, he wrote another letter to the editor, this one asserting the premise that Arizona residents who don't blindly love the state shouldn't criticize it.  They should just leave.

These are the kind of people who help keep Arizona in late-night monologues.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Political Hot Stove Season: Time for some 2016 speculation

2014 results are in and the wounds have been licked (still sore, but not sore enough to distract from thinking about 2016).

It's time for a little speculation (these are pure WAGs; no actual journalism went into the making of this post :) ) -

US Senate:

Republican incumbent John McCain is "leaning toward" a run for another term.  If he chooses to not run, there will be a free-for-all on both sides, and even if he *does* run, there will be a primary on the R side - the tea party types feel that he is too liberal (apparently, pushing for a foreign policy of "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" means McCain is too merciful for their tastes) and will attack him from the right.

Since 2016 is a presidential election year and should be a stronger year for Democrats, there will be some strong candidates for the Senate race.  And if McCain doesn't run, that "some" will become "many".

At this point, it will be a bit of a shock if Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema doesn't take a long look at the race.  She's young, smart, and very focused on making it to higher office.  In most minds, it's not a matter of "if" she is going to run for the US Senate, but "when".

Other possible candidates:  Richard Carmona, the 2012 Democratic nominee for the US Senate seat currently held by Jeff Flake; Felecia Rotellini, the 2010 and 2014 Democratic nominee for Arizona Attorney General.  While she came up short in both races, she's seen as a good candidate who was swamped by Republican waves in both years.  In a D-leaning or even neutral year, she will be a formidable candidate.

CD2 - Whether or not Democrat Ron Barber pulls out this election (he's currently down 179 votes to Republican Martha McSally), 2014 is likely his last election.

Likely candidates:

State Senator Steve Farley - possibly as smart as Sinema, and certainly as ambitious.  Has long coveted a seat in Congress; 2016 may be his year.

Randy Friese, surgeon for Gabby Giffords after her shooting, and leading (faux) moderate Republican Ethan Orr for a seat in the state house of representatives by 182 votes.  Seen as the favored candidate of the Giffords machine (and have no doubt, the former Congresswoman still has some major influence in the district).

CD9 - If Sinema bolts for a Senate run, this competitive district will see brutal scrums on both sides of the ballot.  And even if she runs for this seat again, it would not be surprising to see primaries on both sides of the ballot.

On the Republican side of the ballot, I have no idea who will run, but I don't expect the nominee to be Wendy Rogers again.  She's come up short in three consecutive cycles (2010 state senate general, 2012 R Congressional primary, 2014 Congressional general), two of them being Republican "wave" years.  I don't if her desire to run for and hold elected office has faded, but 2016 Republican primary voters will probably turn to someone seen as less damaged.

On the Democratic side of the ballot, well, there are whispers about Sinema not exactly being a favorite of most of the grassroots activists in the district.  In other words, if she again is seen as "triangulating" in an effort to portray herself as Republican-lite, she will face a challenger.

And if she goes for a Senate seat, all hell will break loose on the Democratic side of the ballot.

Potential candidates include (but are not limited to):  LD24 legislators Chad Campbell (outgoing House Minority Leader), Katie Hobbs (incoming Senate Minority Leader), LD26 State Senator Ed Ableser, former and current members of the city councils in Phoenix and Tempe.

2015 special:  The winner of the mayoral race in Phoenix will be the mayor of Phoenix; the runner-up will likely mount a 2016 run for federal office, House or Senate (depends on what McCain does).  The likely candidates are incumbent Democrat Greg Stanton and Republican Sal DiCiccio.  Considering that DiCiccio fronted the failed anti-public employee ballot measure that went before Phoenix voters last week, he may reconsider.

Back to 2016 -

Other possibilities:  One or more sitting Democratic state legislators may take a run at a seat on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.  Four out of the five supervisor districts are stacked in favor of the Republican incumbents, but in a presidential election year, with the expected "bounce-back" Democratic turnout, a candidate with name ID, access to money, and experience running a campaign?  Feasible enough for a look.

Both major parties will be holding their "reorganization" meetings in January; the results of those will serve as an indicator of the directions of the parties and also the ambitions of potential candidates - those folks who plan on a run at higher office will attempt to exert some influence over the makeup of their party's hierarchy.

On the Democratic side, don't be shocked if the Sinema machine works to get one of their allies the chairmanship of the state Democratic party to aid her potential run for Senate.

On the Republican side, long-time ideological bomb-thrower and chair of the Maricopa County Republicans AJ LaFaro will probably attempt to become the chair of his party's state organization...because he believes that the AZGOP's current anti-choice, anti-LGBT, anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-education...hell..anti- "everything" stances are still too liberal.

More to come...

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Very tough night for Democrats

Maricopa County results, courtesy the website of the Maricopa County Recorder, as of 10:20 p.m.(some of these races are close enough that they could flip :

CD9 - D incumbent Kyrsten Sinema ahead of R perennial candidate Wendy Rogers by >11%, 97% reporting.  Sinema's going to win.  Not a surprise.  Early on, she was seen as vulnerable, but nobody from the Republican "A" team stepped up.

Legislative races:

No big surprises, but one disappointment:  In LD23, Republican John Kavanagh is cruising to winning the Senate seat there over Democrat Paula Pennypacker by more than 25 percentage points.

On the plus side: In LD28, Democratic State Representative Eric Meyer looks to be withstanding a challenge from Republican Shawnna Bolick, wife of Goldwater Institute bigwig Clint Bolick, and the beneficiary of lots of IE money.

County races:

Biggest surprise - In a non-partisan race for a seat on the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) governing board, Republican former legislator Jean McGrath trounced incumbent Randolph Lumm by nearly 40 percentage points.  The highlight of her legislative career: proposing a bill that would have barred opposite sex visitors in the dorms of the state's universities.  Wonder if anyone has informed her that Maricopa County's community colleges don't have dorms?

Ballot questions:

Proposition 480, Maricopa Integrated Health System bond question (funding for rebuilding the county hospital system):  Passing by more than 160K votes.

Proposition 487, City of Phoenix question, gutting public employee pensions: Falling by nearly 26K votes.

State results (and a smattering of races that aren't statewide, but are outside of Maricopa County), mostly courtesy the website of the Arizona Secretary of State, as of 11:45 p.m. :

CD1: Democratic incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick ahead of Republican challenger Andy Tobin by just over 5K votes, 211 of 327 precincts reporting.  Kirkpatrick will win.

CD2; Democratic incumbent Ron Barber ahead of Republican challenger Martha McSally by 247 votes, 136 of 194 precincts reporting.  Too close to call.

AZGov:  Republican Doug Ducey ahead of Democrat Fred Duval by ~141K votes, 1319 of 1566 precincts reporting.  Ducey will win. :(

AZSOS: Republican Michelle Reagan ahead of Democrat Terry Goddard by ~53K votes, 1319 of 1566 precincts reporting.  Likely Reagan win.

AZAG: Republican Mark Brnovich ahead of Democrat Felecia Rotellini by ~75K votes, 1319 of 1566 precincts reporting.  Likely Brnovich win.

AZ Superintendent of Public Instruction: Republican Diane Douglas ahead of Democrat David Garcia by ~26K votes, 1319 of 1566 precincts reporting.  Considering that Douglas basically hid from the public during the campaign, this one will be an embarrassment if it holds up.

LD2 State Representative:  Upset in the making as Republican John Ackerley is ahead of Democratic incumbent Demion  by ~2K votes for the second spot there, 55 of 57 precincts reporting (two are elected; Democrat Rosanna Gabaldon is easily holding on to the other seat).

LD4 State Representative:  Another upset in the making with Republican Richard Hopkins ahead of Democrat Charlene Fernandez by ~600 votes for the second spot there, 56 of 59 precincts reporting (two are elected; Democrat Lisa Otondo is holding on to the other seat).

LD6 State Senate:  In a race that could determine the presidency of the state senate, Independent Tom O'Halleran is ahead of Republican Sylvia Allen by ~450 votes.  Word is that if O'Halleran wins, current Senate president Andy Biggs will be replaced by former Senate president Steve Pierce, and that if Allen wins, the status quo will be maintained.

LD9 State Representative: Too close to call.  250 separate the three candidate for two spots.  Currently incumbent faux moderate Republican Ethan Orr trails Democrats Randy Friese and Victoria Steele, 53 of 57 precincts reporting.

Proposition 122, the neo-secessionist "nullification" measure:  Ahead by ~22K votes, 1319 of 1566 precincts reporting.

Proposition 303, called the "Right to Try Act" (would allow drug companies to sell untested drugs to desperate terminally ill patients):  Ahead by ~600K votes, 1319 of 1566 precincts reporting.

Proposition 304, legislative pay raise:  Falling by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

Pima County Proposition 415, bonds to fund improvements to Pima County's Animal Care facility: Passing easily.

Nationally, Tuesday sucked for Democrats (mostly).  There will be time for a full recap on Wednesday, but here's a bit of a preview:

Dear Massachusetts Democrats, never, EVER, again nominate Martha Coakley for anything.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Election Day 2014

Calls made, doors knocked, lit dropped, signs posted.

Voting underway. 

Holding breath.

For those who haven't watched TV...or listened to the radio...or read a newspaper...or opened their the last month, there is an election today.

If you are registered to vote in Maricopa County, the county recorder's polling place locator is here.

...Back to our previously scheduled breath-holding...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Michele Reagan Can't Answer Why She Voted for Birther Bill

Making Jan "Brain Freeze" Brewer look like the paragon of eloquence...

Finish the Ballot - vote for the judges

As the above video, prepared by the Arizona Bar Association, explains, in the state's three most populous counties, judges are first selected for the job based on merit (explanation video here).  After that, they are periodically subject to "retention" election - if a judge gets more "no" votes than "yes" votes, he or she loses the job.

Most voters aren't familiar with individual judges (and that's mostly a good thing - the easiest way to become familiar with a judge is to have to appear in court).  Even politically active people (like me) are only a little more knowledgeable about the members of our judiciary, in that the names of the five justices of the state supreme court are slightly familiar.

To help voters learn how well judges are doing their jobs, the state's Judicial branch has set up the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review (JPR).

One of the things that JPR does is survey the people who interact with our judges and solicit feedback on the judges' professionalism, fairness, and the way that they operate their courts.

The judges are then evaluated by JPR and given a grade of "meet" or "does not meet" performance standards.

JPR's performance reports on the individual judges are here.

One judge in Maricopa County and one in Pima County earned a "does not meet" evaluation.

If you have an early ballot, they should be put in the mail by October 31 so that they reach the county recorder by November 4.  Otherwise, bring your ballot to any polling place on Election Day.

The state bar association has created a contest for Instagram videos that encourage people to "Finish the ballot. Vote for the judges!"

More information on the contest here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Candidates and social media: A couple of examples of what *not* to do

You'd think that after a number of AZ legislators made a pilgrimage to Bundy-land in Nevada and embarrassed themselves, and the state, by bragging about it on Twitter, AZ pols would be careful about what they put out on social media.

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong.

...On Thursday, Arizona Republicans held an event in Mesa headlined by Doug Ducey, the AZGOP's 2014 gubernatorial nominee, and Mitt Romney, the national GOP's failed 2012 presidential nominee.

 And the Rs were excited, almost giddy.

Which showed in their tweets from the event.

One from Congressman Matt Salmon -

Apparently, the Congressman believes that Ducey's and Romney's records on finance and employment issues...stuff that created jobs for bankruptcy attorneys and unemployment case workers...are things to boast about.

Which, of course, is his opinion, one that he is entitled to have and express.

Me?  I think he just provided wiseass bloggers an opportunity to remind people of Ducey's and Romney's contemptible and predatory behavior toward people who work for a living.

...However, while the above tweet is not unusual for a Republican (lauding bad behavior by another R), Michele Reagan, the Republican nominee for AZ Secretary of State, tweeted something that definitely falls into the "gaffe" category.  She tweeted this pic from one of her fundraisers -

Reagan, center, with Samy Bouzaglo (L) and Amy Bouzaglo (R)

In case you don't remember them, Samy and Amy are the proprietors of the now-infamous Amy's Baking Company.

More interestingly, neither one can actually vote for Reagan - Samy is a non-citizen and cannot vote, and Amy is a convicted felon who hasn't had her civil rights restored (so far as I can find).

To be fair to Reagan, she apparently realized that this tweet wasn't the brightest idea, and removed it -

Fortunately, a friend screen captured it first. :)

The Arizona Democratic Party sent out a press release about this, and true to form, the Bouzaglos did not react well -

Unlike Reagan, however, at least they haven't pulled down their tweets.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rally to Move AZ Forward!!

This coming Saturday, October 25, from 4 - 7 p.m., join many of the great candidates for office this year at Mesa's Riverview Park (2100 W 8th St, Mesa, Arizona 85201) -

In addition to Fred Duval, some of the other candidates expected to be there include Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, State Representative Juan Mendez, David Garcia, Democratic nominee for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Jim Holway, Democratic candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission.  Also expected to appear: many legislative candidates from districts in the area.

It should be a fun time for all, and it is taking place just before the ASU football game against the University of Washington (start time: 7:45 p.m. @ UW, televised on ESPN).

The rally is being put on by the LD26 Democrats (most of Tempe, west Mesa, Salt River Pima/Maricopa Indian Community) and the Maricopa County Democrats, but it is open to all who are interested in meeting some great candidates and helping to Move AZ Forward....

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekly Address: What You Need to Know About Ebola

In the midst of all of the media and GOP fear-mongering over the two cases of Ebola contracted in the US, the text President Barack Obama's remarks on the topic, from his weekly address (October 18, 2014) -

Today, I want to take a few minutes to speak with you-directly and clearly-about Ebola: what we're doing about it, and what you need to know.  Because meeting a public health challenge like this isn't just a job for government.  All of us - citizens, leaders, the media - have a responsibility and a role to play.  This is a serious disease, but we can't give in to hysteria or fear-because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need.  We have to be guided by the science.  We have to remember the basic facts.

First, what we're seeing now is not an "outbreak" or an "epidemic" of Ebola in America.  We're a nation of more than 300 million people.  To date, we've seen three casesof Ebola diagnosed here-the man who contracted the disease in Liberia, came here and sadly died; the two courageous nurses who were infected while they were treating him.  Our thoughts and our prayers are with them, and we're doing everything we can to give them the best care possible.  Now, even one infection is too many.  At the same time, we have to keep this in perspective.  As our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu.

Second, Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch.  It's not transmitted through the air like the flu.  You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus.  The only way that a person can contract the disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is already showing symptoms.  I've met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who've treated Ebola patients.  I've met with an Ebola patient who recovered, right in the Oval Office.  And I'm fine.

Third, we know how to fightthis disease.  We know the protocols.  And we know that when they're followed, they work.  So far, five Americans who got infected with Ebolain West Africa have been brought back to the United States-and all five have been treated safely, without infecting healthcare workers. 

And this week, at my direction, we're stepping up our efforts.  Additional CDC personnel are on the scene in Dallas and Cleveland.  We're working quickly to track and monitor anyone who may have been in close contact with someone showing symptoms.  We're sharing lessons learned so other hospitals don't repeat the mistakes that happened in Dallas.  The CDC's new Ebola rapid response teams will deploy quickly to help hospitals implement the right protocols.  New screening measures are now in place at airports that receive nearly all passengers arriving from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.  And we'll continue to constantly review our measures, and update them as needed, to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep Americans safe.

Finally, we can't just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging.  Our medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain.  Trying to seal off an entire region of the world - if that were even possible-could actually make the situation worse.  It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth.  Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.

So the United States will continue to help lead the global response in West Africa.  Because if we want to protect Americans from Ebola here at home, we have to end it over there.  And as our civilian and military personnel serve in the region, their safety and health will remain a top priority.

As I've said before, fighting this disease will take time.  Before this is over, we may see more isolated cases here in America.  But we know how to wage this fight.  And if we take the steps that are necessary, if we're guided by the science - the facts, not fear-then I am absolutely confident that we can prevent a serious outbreak here in the United States, and we can continue to lead the world in this urgent effort.