Following The Money: Democrats Spend Big in Southern Arizona Legislative Races

A Democratic mailer targeting Republican Frank Antenori sponsored by Victory 2008; Antenori charges that Democrats "made complete fabrications."

We’ve mentioned recently in The Skinny (here and here) how the Arizona Democratic Party is making a big push to flip the Arizona House of Representatives. To do it, they need to flip four seats into the Democratic column while hanging onto the gains they made in 2008.

That’s no easy task, but the Democrats are never likely to find themselves in a more advantageous political environment. And they certainly have the financial resources to make it happen, although we’ll have to wait until Election Day to see if they ended up spending all their money in an effective manner.

The Democratic Party has invested a half-million dollars into Victory 2008, a political committee pushing for Democrats in GOP districts across the state. They’re being backed up by Arizonans for a Healthy Economy, a political committee that, according to the most recent campaign finance reports, had been funded by the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education ($50K), the Arizona Fire Fighters ($50K), the SEIU labor guys ($50K), and Arizona’s List, a political committee dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women ($37K). Arizonans for a Healthy Economy also picked up a bunch of contributions from Tucson-area lefties.

Here in Southern Arizona, the Democrats have targeted Districts 25, 26 and 30 with more than $300,000 in campaign spending. They should get an easy pick-up in LD25, where Republican Rep. Jennifer Burns is retiring. The district leans Democratic and the Republican candidates are not especially credible; one of them, David Stevens, isn’t even in the country to campaign.

In GOP-leaning District 26 (Catalina Foothills, Oro Valley, Saddlebrooke), the Democrats have to protect Rep. Nancy Young Wright and carry Don Jorgensen to victory against Republicans Vic Williams and Marilyn Zerull. They also want to keep the state Senate seat in Democratic hands by supporting Cheryl Cage against Republican Al Melvin.

In LD26, the Democratic committees have combined to spend Continue reading


ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Nancy Young Wright on Taxes

Nancy Young WrightDemocrat Nancy Young Wright is running for a seat in Legislative District 26 House of Representatives. We asked her some questions on tax policy.

Do you support the repeal of the state property tax?

No, I do not. The state’s budget shouldn’t be weakened further by repealing taxes at this time. The County Equalization tax, which was suspended for three years, can help us balance our budget this year, and costs the average taxpayer about what they would spend on a pizza.

Do you support borrowing for school construction?

Yes. Arizona is the only state that tries to pay for school construction through cash reserves. It makes no sense to go into the red when we could borrow at a modest interest rate to build the schools our students need.

Any other quick thoughts you would like to add about tax or budget reform?

We need to create the budget in the open. The budget should be developed in the Appropriations committee; not behind closed doors. I’d be open to targeted tax cuts, but we must protect essential services such as education, essential human services and public safety, CPS and prisons.

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican Vic Williams on Taxes

Republican candidate Vic Williams is one of four candidates seeking a House of Representatives seat in Legislative District 26. We asked him some questions about taxes.

Do you support the repeal of the state property tax?

I believe our property taxes are too high and now is not the time to overtax people. I believe we need to look elsewhere for tax relief on individual properties.

Since it will cost the state $250 million, what should the state cut to make up for the lost revenue?

In my opinion we need to cut spending, maybe not all programs but we need to balance the budget by cutting spending across the board. If you take a look at our state, we’ve had a 70 percent increase in our budget in the last seven to 10 years and anytime you have that kind of increase in expenditures, I am sure that there are overlapping overheads, redundancies and wasteful spending. Secondly, as much as I want to see our school infrastructure grow, we may want to consider suspending new school infrastructure, for a time until we can pick up the slack.

Do you support borrowing for school construction?

Yes, absolutely. Before we go out and start bonding, however, we need to be cautious where we spend money when we’re in an economic downturn. I do support bonding for infrastructure and such but let’s focus right now on getting our fiscal health in order.

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican Marilyn Zerull on Taxes

Marilyn Zerull is one of four candidates seeking the two seats in the House of Representatives in Legislative District 26. We asked her some questions on taxes.

Do you support the repeal of the state property tax?

I’m always in support of the repeal of any property tax.

SInce it will cost the state $250 million, what should the state cut to make up for the lost revenue?

Wasteful programs such as Planned Parenthood and some cuts in education, but only to support other parts of education. For instance, I don’t think the state should be paying for all-day daycare. I think that should be the responsibility of the parents. I also don’t believe we should be funding benefits for illegal aliens such as free health care and free education and all the freebies that we offer. I’m not familiar with all parts of the budget but I do know that the government can be run like a household. When the family gets hit with a crisis, the family has to cut back.

Do you support borrowing for school construction?

No, I think borrowing just puts the financial burden on future generations.

Tucson Weekly Endorsement: Cage, Wright, Jorgensen in District 26

Cheryl Cage

Cheryl Cage

Senate: Democrat Cheryl Cage

House: Democrats Nancy Young Wright and Don Jorgensen

Legislative District 26 is a vital swing district to the Democrats’ hopes of winning the Arizona House of Representatives and narrowing the gap in the Arizona Senate.

At a time when the state is facing a severe economic crisis, we need someone who has a better solution than simply cutting taxes and slashing government spending. Cheryl Cage is an experienced businesswoman who believes in developing a working government, not simply starving it until it’s too crippled to function any longer. She wisely calls for protecting education during the current economic crisis and opposes more tax cuts that will only force the state to sink even deeper into a

Nancy Young Wright

financial hole. She also wants the state to stop bickering about whether guns belong on elementary-school campuses and start tackling the bigger questions that face us: How do we best reform water policy? How do we pay for transportation? How do we ensure that all Arizonans have access to decent health care?

Nancy Young Wright proved herself during her tenure on the Amphi School Board, where she rooted out a culture of corruption and insider dealing; voters eventually booted out the old guard that tried to intimidate her into silence. We’re confident that she would continue to support the right causes–protecting the environment, improving education and providing health care to Arizona’s least fortunate.

Don Jorgensen

Don Jorgensen, who is making his first run for public office, also impresses us with his understanding of the health-care industry and his support for education, the environment and clean energy.

The GOP slate of candidates–Al Melvin, Marilyn Zerull and Vic Williams–offer a lot of rhetoric about smaller government and the magic of the free market. Well, we’ve seen in recent weeks just how well that deregulated free market works out–as long as taxpayers are there to provide a $700 billion bailout.

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican Marilyn Zerull on Education

Marilyn Zerull is one of three Republican candidates running for a seat in Legislative District 26 House of Representatives. We asked her some questions on education policy.

Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for graduation?

I don’t really care for the AIMS test mainly because it tests after the fact. I would prefer testing during the school year. I believe if the curriculum was standardized, regular class room testing would indicate to the teachers and parents if a student was falling behind.

Do you favor any changes for the AIMS test?

I would favor a basics skills test like I was brought up with-one that is Continue reading

Three to Get Ready: A Look at the Legislative District 26 House Race

Trent Humphries

Originally published Aug. 28 in the Tucson Weekly

Republican Trent Humphries was flushed and dripping sweat as he rang a doorbell in the Del Webb neighborhood in northeast Tucson in mid-July. The man who answered wasn’t interested.

“I’m watching the All-Star Game,” the resident complained. “What do you want?”

It wasn’t the warmest greeting that Humphries experienced as he walked door-to-door in an effort to promote his campaign for a House seat in Legislative District 26, which stretches from Saddlebrooke through Oro Valley and across the Catalina Foothills.

But canvassing precincts is one of the old-fashioned ways that Humphries and his fellow LD26 Republicans–Vic Williams and Marilyn Zerull–have been introducing themselves to voters.

Vic Williams

All three are political rookies with little name ID coming into the campaign. Humphries, who owns a computer-repair company, was better known as “Framer,” his nom de guerre on a local blog he began penning during the 2006 election season. Williams retired to Tucson after selling off a successful warehouse-supply business and took up politics as a hobby, helping out with various party functions and organizing a GOP cigar club. Zerull has been a party activist for many years, as well as a volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America.

Even though Republicans have a registration advantage in LD 26, there are no GOP incumbents in the race. One of the House members, Republican Pete Hershberger, is running in the district’s GOP Senate primary against Al Melvin. The other House member is a Democrat, Nancy Young Wright, who is seeking election to the seat after finishing up the term of Lena Saradnik, who stepped down after suffering a stroke.

The split representation makes Legislative District 26 one of Arizona’s rare swing districts. That means Democrats hope to hang on to the seat they have and win the second seat in November as part of their effort to flip at least four seats statewide and gain a majority in the 60-member House of Representatives.

The three Republicans in the upcoming primary, on the other hand, want to see the GOP reclaim dominance in the district.

Humphries, who has been funded by $12,921 in Clean Elections funds, has embraced some innovative campaign strategies in the race. He’s hosted forums on key issues in the district, including health care and law enforcement. His emphasis on keeping the state out of Continue reading