This Week in Arizona Politics: 5 Things to Know

July 31,2017 | Triadvocates

1. With all eyes on Congress, the last two weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for many Americans, but it’s unlikely many of them can match Sen. John McCain’s experience. The 80-year-old senator from Arizona was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, after doctors performed surgery on a blood clot above his left eye. Just days after his diagnosis became public, he was back in D.C. for a critical vote to open debate on an Obamacare repeal bill. On Tuesday, after casting a decisive procedural vote for the GOP, he delivered a passionate speech and desperately needed call for his colleagues to stop the political gamesmanship, work across the aisle and put the health-care needs of the American people first. In the early hours of Friday, McCain followed through on his words, voting against a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act—a proposal that would have resulted in 15 million people becoming uninsured by 2018. One of only three Republican senators to oppose the measure, McCain's vote was critical, as the bill failed by one vote. After what may be one of his most memorable “maverick” moments, and a move that likely sealed his legacy, he is returning home to Arizona to begin radiation and chemotherapy treatment and is expected to return to D.C. in September.

2. Last week, state Rep. Jeff Weninger joined a panel of technology experts in D.C. to discuss Arizona's efforts as a pioneer in laying the groundwork for fifth-generation, or 5G, technology. According to the panel of industry and government officials, Arizona could become one of the first states with 5G technology. They credited the recent passage of HB 2365, sponsored by Weninger and strongly supported by Gov. Doug Ducey, which streamlines the permitting process for faster networks through the deployment of small cell technology. Arizona has received national recognition for being the first to take this monumental step toward a 5G network, which will better support booming rideshare platforms like Lyft and Uber, will make autonomous vehicles a reality, and will lay a foundation for the limitless possibilities that have yet to be unleashed through the Internet of Things.

3. Former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is attempting to pull off a rare feat in Arizona politics. Kirkpatrick recently announced she will be running again for Congress against incumbent Rep. Martha McSally in CD 2 (southern Arizona). Kirkpatrick represented CD 1 (northern Arizona) for three terms before running for Senate last year against Sen. John McCain. While members of Congress do not have to live in the district they represent, history shows that it’s much harder to win if you don’t. No member of Congress in recent memory has been elected to represent two different districts—yet alone two that are so vastly different in regards to geography and demographics.

4. Last week, state Rep. Jesus Rubalcava, a Democrat from Gila Bend, resigned from his seat representing LD 4. While his letter of resignation cited intentions to focus on his family and profession, the announcement comes amid an ongoing Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission investigation. In May, a Clean Elections audit found that he had combined his personal funds with campaign funds, and used the campaign dollars to cover personal expenses, like flights out of state and hotels in D.C., Memphis, San Diego and San Jose. The violations, which Rubalcava has chalked up to his being a first-time candidate not familiar with the rules, were enough reason for his removal from office. He also sparked controversy in April after writing on social media that he wanted to punch Republican state Sen. Debbie Lesko in the throat following her successful passage of legislation expanding Arizona’s school voucher program. House Minority Leader Rebecca Rios anticipates the usual process of replacing Rubalcava will likely take its course.

Former Phoenix City Councilman Tom Simplot, who has always cast himself as a moderate, has generated some buzz after switching his registration from Democrat, back to Republican and then to independent—all within the past four months. The political party-hopping had some political insiders speculating that Simplot was considering jumping out of the race for Phoenix mayor. And they were right. Earlier this month, Simplot started a new gig working under an appointee in the Trump administration as senior advisor to Mary Anne Carter, well-known GOP operative and senior deputy chairwoman at the National Endowment for the Arts. (Translation: Simplot now works for one of President Donald Trump's liaisons to the arts endowment.) While Simplot has yet to publicly comment on his new job or confirm he's not running for mayor, many believe that's out of the question given his move to the East Coast.

In other City of Phoenix news, the city will hold an election for seats in Council Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8. The incumbents in Districts 2 (Councilman Jim Waring), 4 (Councilwoman Laura Pastor) and 8 (Councilwoman Kate Gallego) are uncontested, while Councilman Sal DiCiccio in District 6 faces challenger Kevin Patterson. The deadline to vote in the election is July 31 and early voting begins on Aug. 2. Aug. 18 is the last day to request an early ballot by mail. To register or learn more, click here.

Abrazo Community Health Network’s Abrazo West Campus has earned the highest national grade in patient safety, demonstrating its commitment to high-quality patient care. Abrazo West was awarded an “A” rating in the Leapfrog Group’s Spring 2017 Safety Score. The Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Score is a rating system designed to give consumers information they can use to make healthcare decisions for themselves or a loved one. The Leapfrog Group assigns A, B, C, D and F grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals based on their ability to prevent errors, injuries, accidents and infections. Abrazo West is one of only 34 adult level 1 trauma centers across the country to receive an “A” grade for safety.

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