While some people are "issues" folks (choice, women's issues, LGBT, etc.), I am a "candidate" guy - I can disagree with someone on a particular issue, but so long as I think that someone is working for the best interests of his/her constituents, I can respect and support that someone.
Which means that for me anyway, in most years it is easy to be a Democrat in Arizona.
While I can't and won't claim that every or even any Democratic candidate is a perfect human being, I can say that as a group, they're decent human beings and try to be honorable public servants.
In contrast, it's been close to a decade since Republican primary voters supported any candidate who is either decent or honorable. For example, the Republican caucus in the state legislature is now divided into two groups - the "bay at the moon" caucus and the "go along to get along" caucus.
To be sure, a few have slipped through unchallenged...one time...but once they exhibit any of the traits of public servants, they face a primary challenge from the right.
With that as a preface, here are my votes for the 2014 general election in Arizona, in the order the offices appear on my ballot (foreshadowing: this is one of the years where I'm proud to be a Democrat) -
- Congress (CD9) - Democratic incumbent Kyrsten Sinema v. Republican perennial candidate Wendy Rogers
I've made it clear before that Sinema is not exactly my favorite Democrat. I supported another candidate in the 2012 primary (David Schapira, now a member-elect of the Tempe City Council) and may support another candidate in a possible 2016 primary. However, she has done some exemplary work on behalf of her district and Arizona's veterans.
In contrast, her opponent Wendy Rogers (who *is* a veteran, as she will be sure to tell you if you ever are within earshot of her) has wholeheartedly embraced that standard GOP platform of fear and demonization. She shows absolutely no sign of being concerned with the welfare of the people of CD9 or Arizona.
In short, Sinema may not be perfect, but she is head and shoulders above her opponent.
Vote goes to: Sinema
- Arizona Governor - Open seat. Democrat Fred Duval v. Republican Doug Ducey.
Because this is a race for an open seat, the campaign has been all about what the candidates *will do* in the office, not what they *have done*.
Duval has pledged to protect the state's education system from further cuts by the legislature and to see that the state pays the court-ordered funds that were improperly cut by the lege in past years.
Ducey, on the other hand, wants to increase the amount of public money funneled to private and charter schools, and has pledged to fight the court-ordered funding repayment.
Summary: Duval is someone who brings a "us" perspective to the table, Ducey brings a "what's in it for me" attitude.
Vote goes to: Duval.
- State Senate (LD24) - Incumbent Democrat Katie Hobbs v. Republican Bill Follette
This one may be the easiest race on the ballot - Hobbs is smart and has worked her tail off for the district; Follette is running as "The Democrats' Republican". Really. Check out his signs. That's all he's got.
Vote goes to: Hobbs
- State Representative (LD24) - Democrat Lela Alston (incumbent), Democrat Ken Clark, and Republican Lei Lani Cortez (vote for 2)
Another easy one.
Alston and Clark are longtime public servants who have performed admirably in every position that they've held; Cortez is running as a Republican who has checked off every box on the GOP's "groupthink" checklist.
Vote(s) goes to: Alston and Clark
- Arizona Secretary of State - Open seat. Democrat Terry Goddard v. Republican Michele Reagan
Goddard is a former mayor of Phoenix, former Arizon Attorney General and arguably, the most qualified candidate for any office this year. His concern for Arizonans is endless, his work ethic is boundless, and his integrity is unassailable (didn't even need a thesaurus for that sentence :) )
Reagan is a state legislator who has crafted, sponsored, and/or voted for the most oppressive legislation to come out of the Capitol in recent years - SB1070 (anti-immigrant), SB1062 (anti-LGBT), and HB2305 (anti-voter) - and also lies about the political process in Arizona.
Vote goes to: Goddard
- Arizona Attorney General - Semi-open seat (meaning that the incumbent lost in the primary). Democrat Felecia Rotellini v. Republican Mark Brnovich.
Rotellini is an experienced prosecutor and former head of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions. She has spent much of her career in consumer protection roles.
She has pledged to work to fight things like domestic violence, human trafficking, and fraud (and other crimes) directed toward Arizona's senior citizen and veterans.
Brnovich has worked for the Arizona Attorney General's Office and the
Brnovich has pledged to fight things like...federal law.
Summary: Rotellini was impressive in 2010 when she was the Democratic nominee, and after four years of the incumbent's sleaze and arrogance, she's even more impressive. Plus, she takes the job of AZAG seriously, looking to protect Arizonans. Brnovich apparently sees the job as being more about enabling the neo-secessionists in the legislature and less about serving the people of Arizona.
Vote goes to: Rotellini
- State Treasurer - Open seat. Only one candidate, so I skipped this race.
- Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction -Semi-open seat. Democrat David Garcia v. Republican Diane Douglas
Garcia is an associate professor at ASU, a veteran, and a nationally renowned education researcher.
Douglas is a former school board member in Peoria.
Garcia supports a well-rounded program to help improve Arizona's K-12 system.
Douglas is a single-issue candidate - she vehemently opposes the set of education standards known as "Common Core".
Summary: Not that the other races were difficult to decide, but this was the easiest choice among the statewide races. Some offices have to go beyond partisanship, and even some Republicans consider Garcia to be the most qualified person to ever run for this office.
Vote goes to: Garcia
- State Mine Inspector - Only the incumbent, Republican Joe Hart, is on the ballot.
Vote goes to: Manny Cruz (write in). Cruz was the 2010 Democratic nominee, and was gearing up for a 2014 run until he was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away in May of this year and is still missed by the many people whose lives that he touched. I know the vote won't count, but it is the right thing here.
Arizona Corporation Commission - Open seats. Democrats Sandra Kennedy and Jim Holway v. Republicans Tom Forese and Doug Little (vote for 2)
Kennedy is a former member of the ACC and the state legislature.
Holway has had a long career in education and government service, focused on the environment.
Forese is a state legislator.
Little is a career corporate cog.
Summary: Kennedy and Holway have years of experience in public service. Forese and Little have a campaign that is being funded by APS, one of the corporations that is regulated by the ACC.
Vote(s) go to: Holway and Kennedy
- Maricopa County Assessor and Clerk of the Superior Court - the Democrats skipped these races, so my votes went to the two Libertarian candidates. Maybe if the Libertarians get enough votes, the Ds will stop skipping low-profile races like these.
- Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board - "At Large" seats - Eddie Tiggs, Mario Diaz, John Heep, and Tracy Livingston (vote for 2).
Not a strong vote "for" here, but while Mario Diaz has issues (like his ties to "Republican is everything but name" state legislator Catherine Miranda) and I couldn't find out much about Tiggs, Heep and Livingston are tea party types who will work to undermine public higher education in Maricopa County.
Votes go to: Tiggs and Diaz.
- Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board - Laddie Shane, Francesca Thomas, Kim Hartmann, and Pam Kirby (vote for 2)
This is one race that I know almost nothing about, so I went with the recommendation of a friend who teaches for SUSD and voted for Hartmann and Thomas.
- Local school district ballot questions -
1. Continuation of a "maintenance and operations" budget override for SUSD. Considering what the legislature and Doug Ducey (if he wins his race) have in mind for Arizona's K-12 system in the new year, this one was an easy "Yes".
2. Authorizing SUSD to dispose of some real property on 44th Street in Phoenix. No.
- Scottsdale City Council - Dennis Robbins, Linda Milhaven, Jennifer Petersen, David Smith, Cindy Hill, and Kathy Littlefield (vote for 3)
In August, I completely skipped this race as none of the candidates are outstanding, but the August election eliminated the two candidates that I considered to be the weakest. Looking at the race again, I still am not particularly enamored with any of the candidates, much less three of them.
Then I received a mailer where Scottsdale mayor Jim Lane announced his endorsement of three of the candidates (Robbins, Milhaven, and Petersen).
I ended up voting for two of the others.
I'm not exactly a fan of Jim Lane. In case you couldn't figure that out for yourself. :)
- Maricopa County judge retention ballot - too numerous to list individually, but there is one of special note: Michael Herrod, husband of Cathi Herrod, head of the Center for Arizona Theocracy Policy.
- Statewide ballot questions - previously covered here.
To recap briefly:
Proposition 122 - "No" - it's an effort to mobilize the neo-secessionist vote; if passed, it will serve only to keep us as a national punchline.
Proposition 303 - "No" - it's an effort to use the "awwwwwww" effect to get people to change AZ law to allow drug companies to bypass the FDA and sell untested drugs and medical treatments to desperate patients.
Proposition 304 - "Yes" - it would raise legislative salaries from $24K per year to $35K. Bottom line: you get what you pay for, and we pay our legislators crap.
- Maricopa County ballot questiion - Proposition 480
Would authorize the county health care district to issue $935 million in bonds to rebuild and expand the county's nationally-recognized hospital and health care system.