This Week in Arizona Politics: 5 Things to Know

June 22,2018 | Triadvocates

1. Sen. Bob Worsley stunned the political community when he announced earlier this week he is not going to seek re-election. With the Republican majority holding at 17-13 in the Senate, Worsley has been in a position to temper many bills that emerged from his more conservative caucus. His absence could have a big impact on what bills move forward in the future. Some politicos are not happy with his timing, as the announcement came after the petition filing deadline for anyone interested in running for the Legislature. As a result, the LD25 Senate seat will likely go to political newcomer Tyler Pace in the general election.

2. Earlier this week, Gov. Doug Ducey officially launched his 2018 re-election campaign with his “Securing Arizona’s Future” video, touting the troubling economic times he inherited with a $1.5 billion budget deficit in 2015 and celebrating the successes of his “business-like” approach to government. As expected, Ducey is focusing on the business-friendly environment he has created in Arizona, highlighting the 300 company relocations that have created more than 160,000 new jobs and have brought more than 200,000 new residents to the state. He is also emphasizing his investments in K-12 education and the 20X2020 teacher salary increase, as well as the approval of Prop. 123 and the expansion of the education 0.6 cents sales tax expansion. In addition to economy and education, his campaign messaging also touches on strong border security in an effort to stop drug and human trafficking as well as all illegal activity at the border.

3. On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a long-standing doctrine that limited states and cities from collecting sales tax from out-of-state businesses without a physical presence in the state. Local brick-and-mortar retailers are thrilled by the ruling, as they have long argued about the unfair nature of the tax treatment of local stores versus their online/out-of-state competition. This court decision is likely to lead to a wide range of legislative activity once policy makers start debating if and how to begin collecting these taxes. We expect to see stakeholder meetings beginning soon on this topic.

4. Following a Phoenix City Council vote on June 11, Thelda Williams is officially the interim mayor of Phoenix. Given her role as vice mayor, she automatically assumed the role of interim mayor when Greg Stanton resigned on May 29. She will continue to represent her district (District 1) as well, and is no stranger to juggling multiple roles—she has served as interim mayor twice before, once in 1994 and once for three days in 2012. Stanton stepped down to focus on his congressional race in CD9 for the seat vacated by Democratic U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who hopes to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake. The musical chairs is in full swing—with five more months to go until Election Day in November.

5. As is tradition, the May 30 deadline for candidates to file their petition signatures has triggered a slew of legal challenges. In Arizona, in order to qualify for the ballot, a candidate for state or federal office must obtain a minimum number of valid signatures. While petition challenges are a typical part of election season, elections officials are saying the volume of voter-signature fraud accusations this year are unprecedented. For reference, we usually see roughly 12 or so challenges in an election year. This year, 45 challenges were filed at the state level and at least 17 candidates have already withdrawn or been removed from the ballot as a result. Here are the candidates who have been challenged along with the status of each (as of today):

  • Ken Bennett (Governor) – Will remain on the ballot, challenging incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey in the Republican primary, after a lawsuit challenging the validity of his petition signatures failed in court yesterday
  • Ann Kirkpatrick (CD2) – Will remain on the ballot in the Democratic primary after a judge dismissed a legal challenge over her residency
  • Wendy Rogers (CD1) – Will remain on the ballot in the Republican primary after a judge ruled yesterday that the error on her nominating petitions was technical and does not invalidate her signatures
  • Mark Syms (LD28, Senate) – Removed from the Republican primary ballot after elections officials determined roughly 78 percent of his signatures were invalid
  • Mark Cardenas (State Treasurer) – Did not file his nominating petitions after discovering that the firm he hired to collect signatures provided fraudulent signatures the day before the filing deadline
  • Mark Robert Gordon (Secretary of State) – Withdrew from the Democratic primary race for Secretary of State following a legal challenge, now alleging that some of his nominating petitions were stolen from a county party office in Tucson
  • Ray Martinez (LD30, Senate) – Removed from the Democratic primary ballot after elections officials determined more than half of his signatures were invalid
  • Sandra Dowling (CD8) – Will remain on the ballot in the Republican primary; the legal challenge was withdrawn earlier this week after county elections officials reviewed her signatures
  • Brenda Barton (LD6, Senate) – Withdrew from the Senate race following a legal challenge of her nominating petitions; this leaves Sen. Sylvia Allen unchallenged in the Republican primary (and avoids what many predicted would be one of the most contentious races in Arizona)
  • Don Shooter (LD13, Senate) – Will remain on the ballot in the Republican primary after a judge dismissed a complaint alleging that Shooter, who was expelled from the House of Representatives last session for sexual misconduct, does not qualify for the primary ballot because he does not actually live in LD13 (Yuma)


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