Triadvocates Navigator Special Edition: Arizona General Election Update

November 08,2018 | TRIADVOCATES

We know you’ve probably been glued to the Secretary of State website, hitting the refresh button all day waiting for instant updates on vote count. But, just in case you haven’t, here's a look at the midterm election boiled down to five key takeaways:

1. While the “blue wave” many were predicting seems to have missed Arizona, Democrats will likely pick up four seats in the state House of Representatives. Unless something unforeseen happens with the remaining votes to be counted, we expect a 31-29 split, with the GOP maintaining control. Such a razor-thin margin for Republicans will make it much more challenging for the controversial ideological bills to gain traction in the upcoming session. Instead, the chamber will probably focus on more mainstream issues that could garner bipartisan support. Even when it comes to middle-of-the-road issues, it is sometimes a challenge keeping a large caucus together—let’s hope the new House leadership quickly masters the art of herding cats. Some trivia for your next cocktail party: this is the fewest number of Republicans in the House since 1961 when the chamber was comprised of 80 members (instead of the current 60) and had a 28-52 split—in favor of the Democrats.

2. What could potentially have the greatest impact on the state in years to come is the passage of Prop. 126, which prevents any new taxes or fees on services in Arizona. The state Realtors association spearheaded the effort, pouring more than $8 million into a sleek advertising campaign depicting greedy politicians sucking up tax dollars with a vacuum. While a broad range of groups and individuals – including both candidates for governor and both candidates for state treasurer – expressed significant concerns over the unintended consequences of Prop. 126, opponents did not form an official committee until just before early ballots were mailed. Because the measure does not include any legal definition of “services” or create a legal demarcation between a good and a service, opponents argue that it could be interpreted to apply to many other new or extended taxes, such as the Prop. 301 education sales tax lawmakers renewed this year. Regarding industry impact, restaurants provide a good illustration of how easily blurred the line between goods and services could be under Prop. 126—at the end of a meal, part of the bill is technically food (goods) and part is for the wait staff (services). Stemming from a broader concern surrounding ballot initiatives in Arizona, the Legislature won’t be able to amend the language to address any  unintended consequences. This would require litigation to establish the contours of the problem, and another constitutional amendment to remedy it. One thing is for certain—we’re uncertain about exactly how this is going to play out.

3. House and Senate Republicans held leadership races today (Democrats will select theirs tomorrow). Here are the leadership teams in both chambers:

  • Senate President: Karen Fann
  • Senate Majority Leader: Rick Gray
  • Senate Majority Whip: Sonny Borrelli
  • Speaker of the House: Rusty Bowers
  • House Majority Leader: Warren Petersen
  • House Majority Whip: Becky Nutt

4. Prop. 127 is now known as the most expensive ballot measure in Arizona history. The proposition, which would have required utilities to get half their energy from renewable sources like solar and wind, was soundly rejected by voters, only garnering 30% of the vote. While we don’t have all the historical figures, this must be one of the most costly defeats in Arizona with the proponents spending approximately $49 per vote. Interestingly, those pushing Prop. 125, which was passed by voters, only spent about 49 cents for every “yes” vote. Now that’s some serious ROI.

5. The race between Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema remains too close to call, with more than 800,000 ballots left to be counted. While McSally currently has a 17,000-vote lead, election officials say roughly 80,000 of the remaining ballots are from Pima County, where Sinema is currently carrying a strong lead. It will likely be more than a week before we get a final count on the state's ballots. In the words of Yogi Berra, "it ain't over till it's over.”

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