Controversial Events in the 2010 Elections
The political landscape in Arizona is controversial for more reasons than just illegal immigration and a severe budget crisis. Here are some stories that have influenced the selection of the members of the next Arizona legislature.
Arizona Election & Civic Engagement Apathy
September 26, 2010, Arizona Republic
"School-board elections were canceled in 32 of the 57 Maricopa County school districts because dozens of races had no candidates or competition for open seats.
For districts, the move means about $547,000 in savings at a time when schools are counting every penny. But the lack of interest in board service reflects a trend across the state."
Interesting editorial in Random Musings entitled, "Apathy: Arizona's Real Third Party."
September 24, 2010, Alyssa Newcomb, Cronkite News Service
Arizona lags the rest of the nation in measures of civic engagement ranging from voting to following the news to participating in community groups, according to a study released Thursday.
The report from the Center for the Future of Arizona said the problem of low voter turnout is especially acute in rural areas of the state.
Lattie Coor, the former Arizona State University president who serves as the group’s chairman and CEO, urged an audience of community leaders to take action and begin by talking to their neighbors.
"We hear these data and we don’t do much about it," Coor said.
"Citizens have a responsibility to be engaged," said Jack Jewett, president of the Flinn Foundation, one of the sponsors of the study. "We have to create an epidemic of civic leadership."
Changes in Campaign Finance
January 21, 2010
A divided U.S. Supreme Court struck down decades-old restrictions on corporate campaign spending, reversing two of its precedents and freeing companies to conduct advertising campaigns that explicitly try to sway voters. The 5-4 majority, invoking the Constitution’s free-speech clause, said the government lacks a legitimate basis to restrict independent campaign expenditures by companies.
Twelve in '10 Fund-Raiser
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Greater Phoenix Leadership held a fund-raiser for twelve candidates at the Arizona Biltmore. The event raised $275,000.00. Three of the twelve candidates lost in the primaries - Bill Konopnicki (LD-5), Eric Ulis (LD-8) and Doug Sposito (LD-30).
The Halt in Clean Elections Matching Funds
From: Alyssa Newcomb Cronkite News Service, Sept 9, 2010 "The Goldwater Institute challenged matching funds on the basis that they punish candidates who exercise their First Amendment right to share their views by triggering funds for a rival candidate. "Matching funds deter people," said Nick Dranias, lead attorney in the lawsuit and director for the Goldwater Institute's Center of Constitutional Government. A district court judge agreed with Dranias. The decision, however, was taken to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed it. The U.S. Supreme Court intervened in June, issuing an injunction until the justices decide whether or not to hear the case."
Legislative Primaries Political Endorsements
The Battle of Endorsements:
"Moderates" versus "Ultra-Conservatives"
The battle for "control" of the Arizona legislature was evident in the endorsements of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Gov. Jan Brewer (representing the Moderate wing of the Republican Party) and the PAChyderm Coalition and Senator Russell Pearce (representing the Ultra-Conservative wing of the Republican Party).
LD-5 Senate (Allen Won) Bill Konopnicki (Jan Brewer, Arizona Chamber of Commerce) Sylvia Allen (Russell Pearce, PAChyderm Coalition)
LD-6 Senate (Klein Won) David Braswell (Jan Brewer) Lori Klein (Russell Pearce, PAChyderm Coalition)
LD-7 Senate (Barto Won) Nancy Barto (Arizona Chamber of Commerce) Ray Barnes (Russell Pearce, PAChyderm Coalition)
LD-11 Senate (Driggs Won) Adam Driggs (Jan Brewer, Arizona Chamber of Commerce) Rich Davis (Russell Pearce, PAChyderm Coalition)
LD-12 Senate (Nelson Won) John Nelson (Jan Brewer, Arizona Chamber of Commerce) Clark Silver (PAChyderm Coalition)
LD-6 House (Reeve and Seel Won) Amanda Reeve (Jan Brewer, Arizona Chamber of Commerce) Carl Seel (Russell Pearce, PAChyderm Coalition) David Fitzgerald (Russell Pearce, PAChyderm Coalition)
Arizona Republic Endorsements
In perhaps the most comprehensive review of political candidates, the Arizona Republic made primary election endorsements for the candidates in districts surrounding Maricopa County. As they posted these endorsements, many of the reader comments expressed a similar feeling, "Thank you very much for your endorsements, now I know who not to vote for."
I don't think the reader comments were kidding, as "qualified candidates" Tim Zobel (LD-4), David Braswell (LD-6), John Kowalski (LD-6), Michael Coskun (LD-7), Michael Blaire (LD-8), Shawnna Bolick (LD-11), Martin Quezada (LD-13), Ken Clark (LD-15), Jim Munoz, Jr. (LD-16), Scott Perkinson (LD19) and Venessa Whitener (LD-21) all lost.
50 "Citizen Groups" Make Primary Election Endorsements
As a way to get involved in the Arizona legislative elections, fifty citizen groups made endorsements in the primary elections.
The Continued Power of Incumbency in the Arizona Legislature
Mary Jo Pitzl, September 5, 2010
"For 22 candidates, the Nov. 2 election is less a contest and more a waiting game. They either have no challengers or face nominal opposition from third-party candidates who don't have the funding or the political-party apparatus to wage a competitive campaign."
Arizonans Dissatisfied with Legislature’s Performance
Most Arizona voters are dissatisfied with the way the Legislature has handled the state budget and taxes.
The poll released September 17, 2010 by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy and Knowledge Networks found that 68 percent of registered voters disapprove of the Legislature’s performance on fiscal matters. (See the Survey Results)
The two incumbents who lost their seat in the primary were Representative Laurin Hendrix from LD-22 (Gilbert) and Representative Cloves Campbell from LD-16 (South Phoenix). (NOTE: Appointed Senator David Braswell lost to Lori Klein and Rep. Bill Konopnicki lost his bid for Senate against incumbent Sylvia Allen.)
Eight Former Legislators Win Primary Elections
These former legislators all won their primary: Jack Jackson (LD-2), Scott Bundgaard (LD-4), David Smith (LD-7), Steve Gallardo (LD-13), Lela Alston (LD-15), Bob Robson (LD-20), Eddie Farnsworth (LD-22) and Sally Ann Gonzales (LD-27). NOTE: Only Bob Robson faces a serious challenge in the general election.
Arizona Elections: Fairness, Accountability & Responsibility
Although not endorsed by the Arizona Green Party, several Green Party candidates will be on the November ballot as a result of a recent court ruling. Thomas Meadow qualified to be on the ballot for State Treasurer with 60 votes, Benjamin Pearcy qualified to be on the ballot for Corporation Commission with 36 votes and Christopher Campbell qualified to be on the ballot for LD-10 Senate with 1 vote.
This issue is not new to Arizona. A similar problem occurred in 2008 where a "sham" Green candidate not only qualified for the ballot, but also received $68,591.00 of "Clean Elections" money. (Click to read The New Times Story)
Election Accountability: Inability to "Meet the Candidates"
With the number of uncompetitive races and the reduced number of Clean Elections candidates, many candidates simply felt they did not need to participate in any debates, fill out candidate surveys or even create a campaign website.
In LD-17, one of the state's more competitive districts, the Senate Clean Election debate was not attended by the Republican "new-comer" candidate, leaving Rep. David Schapira to "debate himself."
Campaign Signs. Pollution? Public Safety Hazard?
In Mesa, nearly 1,000 campaign signs were removed by the city for violating placement rules. In Scottsdale, over 1,000 campaign signs were removed.
In a state where penalties and fines have increased significantly over the past ten years for offenses committed by the "general public", political candidates where allowed to simply "pick-up" the signs that were taken down.
Arizona Elections: Voting Turnout & Voting Procedures
By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
"Figures from the Secretary of State’s Office show 933,650 people cast ballots in the race. That translates to a turnout of 30.1 percent. Two years ago only 22.8 percent of registered voters turned out. And two years before that — when, as now, most statewide offices were up for grabs — the turnout was just 24.7 percent."
Election Laws in 10 Key States:
Arizona Tops List Of Greatest Concerns for Voting Rights
and Democracy Advocates
September 16, 2010
"A recently released 170 page report conducted by Common Cause reviews problematic areas that include: voter registration, identification issues—which can present burdens to those who don’t hold traditional identification such as a driver’s license, provisional ballots, voter suppression and deception tactics, caging and challenge laws, voting for overseas and military voters, and challenges for new citizens and ethnic minorities.
The Swing State review shows mixed results. Arizona tops the list of greatest concern for voting rights and democracy advocates. The climate of fear and ill-will created by the passage of the anti-immigrant bill has many worried that voters of color may be reluctant to cast a ballot, and that Arizona may experience a surge in vote suppression tactics. Making matters worse, Arizona has an onerous proof of citizenship requirement to vote, as well as a history of inconsistently implementing language assistance requirements of the Voting Rights Act."
The key to good public policy is the engagement of individuals and groups with specific knowledge of the issues being debates. In today's society, these knowledgeable people are involved in what we call "citizen groups".
Civil Arizona is designed to provide a strong voice for a variety of citizen groups to participate in the development and evaluation of different public policy alternatives.