How Clean Elections Helped Conservatives Increase Their Seats in the Arizona Legislature

I delivered a guest commentary on KUAT-TV’s Arizona Illustrated earlier this week talking about the influence of Clean Elections. If you don’t feel like watching it, here’s the script:

While the rest of the country was turning a darker shade of blue, a funny thing happened in Arizona: Republicans gained ground in the state legislature.

It wasn’t supposed to work out that way. The Democrats set out this year to take control of the Arizona House of Representatives. To do that, they needed to hang onto all the gains they made in 2006 and flip four seats.

The political climate could hardly have been more hospitable to Democrats. Besides the damage that the Republican Party brand has suffered in recent years, the Democrats were flush with cash, while the GOP was pretty much broke.

So the Democrats recruited some sharp candidates and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to boost their slate. But on Election Day, they ended up losing nearly all of the races they targeted.

Down here in Southern Arizona, they weren’t able to win an upset in Legislative District 30, which includes Tucson’s east side and Green Valley. They weren’t able to gain a seat in District 26 on the northwest side. And they weren’t even able to beat Republican David Stevens in Marana’s District 25, even though Stevens wasn’t even in the country to campaign.

I’m sure there are plenty of reasons that Republicans were able to pick up seats in the House of Representatives yesterday, but here’s a major one: Clean Elections, the Continue reading

After Math: The Raw Numbers From Election Day

Pima County is still working their way through the provisional ballots—Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez has to make sure they’re all legit before sending them over to the Elections Division to be counted—but we’re not expecting any major races to change direction at this point.

With virtually all of the early ballots processed, it appears that 226,568 people voted before Election Day. Most were by mail, but 18,320 people visited polling booths that were set up in the weeks before the election.

The Elections Division reports that 152,091 voters cast a ballot on Election Day, which brings Pima County’s total number of voters to 378,659.

That just leaves the provisional ballots. Pima County Registrar of Voters Chris Roads says that if 20,000 of those turn out to be valid, then we’ll have had about 400,000 voters cast a ballot in the election, which comes out to about 80 percent of 498,777 eligible voters. That’s a few points below the 82 percent turnout we had in 2004, but in raw numbers, it exceeds the 369,321 people who voted in the last presidential year.

We’ll crunch the final numbers when we get them, but at this point, it looks like nearly 60 percent of the voters cast early ballots in the election.

We’ll be bringing you our ongoing analysis of what those numbers mean over the next few days.

Not So Much

Yesterday’s Arizona Daily Star editorial page:

Rep. Phil Lopes, a Democrat from District 27, will have a leadership position.
Lopes is a voice of moderation and cooperation and is a valuable member of the Legislature.

Yesterday’s Arizona Capitol Times, reporting on the Democrats electing a new leadership team:

David Lujan is the new minority leader. His seatmate, Kyrsten Sinema, was elected assistant leader and Chad Campbell was named whip. All three represent central Phoenix districts, and they ran as a team for caucus leadership.

Lujan said his goal is to build coalitions with Republicans to craft policies that are grounded in solving the state’s problems, not advancing the political agendas of either party.

In choosing Lujan and his teammates, the caucus voted resoundingly against Phil Lopes, who had led House Democrats since 2005. He was teaming with Steve Gallardo, who was looking to move from whip to assistant leader, and Lynn Pancrazi, who was running for whip.

However, Lopes was defeated early in the caucus elections, as he came in last in a three-way race that also included David Bradley of Tucson. Because neither Bradley nor Lujan captured the support of the majority of the caucus on the first vote, they went head to head in a second round of voting.

Lujan said he won that contest by “a number of votes.”

Proposition Resolution

curr1-2The payday-loan industry may be on its way out of business in Arizona. Gay marriage is even more illegal in the state, and once again, voters have rejected the idea of giving lawmakers a raise.

With 99.1 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, here are the latest results.

The payday-loan industry suffered a stunning defeat after 59.5 percent of voters rejected Proposition 200, the Payday Loan Reform Act. Prop 200, which was funded with more than $14 million from the payday-loan industry, would have allowed the industry to continue to operate in the state past 2010, the year in which the law that allowed them to set up shop will expire.

Business owners did not get a break from voters after the stunning defeat of Proposition 202. The Stop Illegal Hiring Act, supported by a variety of business interests, would have granted Arizona companies additional defenses if caught with illegal workers on their payroll. However, with the defeat—59.1 percent of voters were saying no—the state’s employer-sanctions law, said by many to be the toughest in the nation, will remain on the books.

Voters also ensured that Continue reading

Blue Rules

curr1-1.jpgA packed room of Democrats let out a roar as the first election results showed Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on her way to re-election over Republican Tim Bee on Tuesday night.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Jennifer Powers-Murphy, who worked phone banks for the freshman Democrat. “The solar thing is a really big deal to me. The only thing John McCain has ever said about solar is that we should all wear sunscreen and a hat.”

Hundreds of Democrats, packed into a ballroom at the Marriott University Park, had been in a feverish mood all evening as state after state was called for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

“Hallelujah goes right there,” said an ebullient Anita Smith-Etheridge as NBC News called Ohio for Barack Obama. “It’s way cool.”

Paul Eckerstrom, a former chair of the Pima County Democratic Party, said “this could be a realignment election.” But, he added, “Obama and the Democrats have to Continue reading

Election Results! (Updated 11 p.m.)

Obama is the president-elect.


— Wow, Corp Commission is close, as are the LD26 and LD30 races.

— Pima County Elections is being extremely slow, as expected.

— “Majority Rules,” Payday Loan industry and legislators’ raises going down Continue reading

Find Your Own Election Results

We’ll be posting throughout the evening, but in case you want to check election results yourself:

Pima County election results

State of Arizona election results