Saturday, June 30, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- CD9 -- Cherny's Koch problem

I read something a few minutes ago on Daily Kos that I had to share with you.

This writer, who remains anonymous at this time, linked to records of donors to Cherny's campaign for California Assembly. Two employees of Koch Industries contributed significant amounts to that campaign. 

What’s their connection to Cherny?
More than likely, Cherny made his way into the world of Koch Industries via the Democratic Leadership Council, the corporatized version of the Democratic Party that pushed trade with China and other more Republican-oriented policies before shuttering its doors last year.

One of those donors, Wayne Gable, according to ALEC Exposed's SourceWatch, is now Managing Director of Federal Affairs for Koch Industries.

One has to wonder if former Attorney General Terry Goddard and current Democratic elected officials and Cherny supporters (like state Rep. Ruben Gallego and Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski) realize who Andrei really is.  

Arizona cannot afford to elect Andrei Cherny to Congress.

Redistricting -- litigation update

This week, counsel for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission filed, in Maricopa County Superior Court, a Motion to Dismiss the amended complaint filed earlier this month in the Republican (Tea Party) effort to get the new Congressional districts thrown out.

Recall that this suit raises NO substantive claims (unlike the federal court challenge to the state legislature districts, which alleges Republicans' voting voice was unconstitutionally diluted solely to benefit the Democratic Party). All of the claims in this suit are specious, based almost exclusively on innuendo and rehash the drama from October and November when Gov. Brewer and the state senate got spanked by the Arizona Supreme Court.

The Motion to Dismiss is in the first 22 pages of this pdf. Attached to it (in the first pdf) are Exhibits A through E. Exhibits E and F are here and F through J are here. The conclusion is a simple, one paragraph summary showing how blatantly absurd plaintiff claims in this lawsuit really are.
The Complaint asserts a series of violations of constitutional requirements that do not exist or that depend on absurd interpretations of the constitutional procedures. In addition, the alleged open-meeting violations for which Plaintiffs seek relief fail to allege an actual violation of the open meeting clause in Article 4, and fail to seek a lawful remedy. Accordingly, the Commission respectfully requests that the Court dismiss the Complaint in its entirety.
The sense that I get when reading the amended complaint and this Motion to Dismiss is that all of these issues have been dealt with previously. One has to wonder why the plaintiff group feels compelled to cause expenditure of so much taxpayer money for things that are highly unlikely to be changed in court.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Democratic primary -- LD24 candidate challenge update

Last week, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson granted an injunction to prevent Lois Jean McDermott's name from appearing on the Democratic primary election ballots for the LD24 nomination for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives.

On Monday, McDermott's attorney, Kory Langhofer filed Notice of Appeal at the Arizona Supreme Court. This afternoon, Langhofer filed his opening brief. The brief presents these issues:

1. Was Ms. Dedolph’s challenge to the nomination of Ms. McDermott untimely under Section 16-351(A) of the Arizona Revised Statutes?
2. Does Section 16-311(G) of the Arizona Revised Statutes permit the use of a surname nickname (i.e., “Cheuvront”) on nomination papers and ballots?
3. If the use of the Cheuvront nickname is prohibited by statute, did Ms. McDermott have adequate advance notice of that prohibition?
4. If use of a surname nickname is technically a departure from the statutory requirements, does Ms. McDermott’s nomination paper substantially comply with the statutory requirements?
Langhofer argues that the challenge was filed two days late; that A.R.S. § 16-311 (G) does allow McDermott to use "Cheuvront"; that even if that statute actually prohibits the use of said nickname, McDermott wasn't warned ahead of time; and that if it IS prohibited, her nomination paper is still substantially in compliance with statute. Therefore, McDermott's name should be on the August ballot, the brief concludes.

One thing I do not see in the brief is asking the Supreme Court to put McDermott back on the ballot even if it finds that statute prohibits use of the name Cheuvront. The issue occurs to me, but I do not know if that question is even relevant.

Langhofer advised that Dedolph's response is due by 5pm on Monday (July 2) and his response to that brief will be due by 5pm on Tuesday. He expects the Court to issue a ruling on Thursday (July 5).

Yesterday, I asked House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (one of the two incumbent lawmakers against whom McDermott and Tom Nehrini are waging an arduous, uphill battle) for his thoughts in the event McDermott is restored to the ballot. Campbell said he's prepared for the campaign either way and that "...with Ken's voting record, I'm not sure why his mom even wants to use his name."

As I receive more info, I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Redistricting -- Republican irony

Well, we finally now know what David Cantelme's been up to for the last year or so with his scheming to usurp independent redistricting in Arizona.

Recall that he began approaching the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in March or April 2011 with his ruse about ensuring that minority voting rights be adequately respected in developing the maps for Congressional and legislative districts. He and I had our verbal exchange wherein sparks flew in July last year. On July 29, 2011, I quoted a letter he had written to the AIRC.
We further urge the Commission to determine in open hearing what level of voting-age population it will require in minority districts to ensure the rights of minorities to elect candidates of their choice.
He has been goading the commission to do the very thing he just yesterday claimed in briefs filed in federal court that they did. He also accuses them of doing it specifically for the purpose of diluting the voting rights of Republicans.

This action seeks to vindicate equal protection rights secured by the 14th Amendment and the equal population clause of the Arizona Constitution, art. 4, pt. 2, § 1(14)(B), that have been violated by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (“IRC”). The IRC intentionally diluted Plaintiffs’ votes and the votes of all other voters of all political ideologies – Republican, Democrat, and all others – residing in Districts 1, 5, 6, 11, 12, 14-18, 20-23, 25, and 28. 
What the IRC tries desperately to avoid is civil discovery that is bound to reveal what it has been struggling to hide for the entire redistricting process. No constitutional reason justified the vote dilution suffered by the citizens of these districts, and the IRC diluted the votes of the citizens of these districts solely to maximize the strength of the Democratic Party, an unconstitutional justification standing alone for vote dilution. Although there is a rebuttable presumption under federal law that population differentials of up to ten percent are constitutional, the Complaint states a claim for relief that (a) the legislative districts are not entitled to that presumption and (b) the presumption does not exist under Arizona’s equal population requirement. Accordingly, the IRC’s Motion to Dismiss (“Motion”) (Dkt. 23) should be denied.
This pleading, obviously written by Cantelme, is much more pointed and strongly worded than the original (and the amended) complaint. This one has his (hostile) voice coming through loud and clear. But it also clearly displays the irony of his scheme.

The language about the IRC trying "desperately to avoid... civil discovery" is complete bullshit. The claims in the complaint were lame and without merit. The motion to dismiss blatantly warranted. What appears desperate, in reality, is Cantelme's hope to NOT have the case dismissed. The complaint did NOT present any credible evidence that anything improper had been done.

Cantelme and company's public records request, (which I mentioned previously) is the "fishing expedition" wherein they desperately hope to find something they can characterize as intent to deprive those poor, victimized Republicans of their voice in the state legislature.


And speaking of irony, surrogates for Andrei Cherny have been busy this evening violating the rule of holes in their hope to characterize any criticism of Andrei's dissembling over the tea party debate videos.
Dick Foreman/Michael Monti campaign tactic! Andrei would have voted for the ACA and I remember angry activists a few years ago because the ACA dropped the public option! Throw mud at Sheriff Joe, he deserves it. Lets stop the negative campaigning in Democratic Primaries! (emphasis mine)
Then, after I called this Cherny staffer on his claim, pointing out that the people he was trying to silence (good luck with that anyway) were on nobody's campaign (or volunteer) staff, he continued digging the hole.
Steve, you might not know Andrei as well as C***** or F**** so maybe this doesn't apply but they KNOW Andrei would have supported the ACA and saying otherwise is not being 100% truthy. It is the type of whisper campaign I have been on the receiving end of in both the Stanton race and most recently the Kolby Granville race. (emphasis mine)
So, Cherny and his surrogates are now claiming that calling Andrei's OWN WORDS to the attention of their facebook friends is negative campaigning and a whisper campaign.

Of course, another Cherny supporter has taken to calling me and other bloggers "bullies" and "lacking credibility" for doing the very same thing.

If Cherny gets his "widdle feewings" hurt by me or others telling the truth about him, how strong of a candidate can he really be?

Or as Democratic activist Fred Barlam wrote tonight,
If Andrei can’t deal with the things that Democrats are throwing at him now, how will he EVER be able to deal with what the TeaPublicans will throw at him if he were the candidate? The Democratic objections that he is running into now will be like CHILD’S PLAY next to that!!!!

Cherny still has not responded to my request for his side of the story, by the way.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Redistricting and primary elections challenge update

Today, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission installed a new District Locator tool on its website.

This interactive feature will allow people to identify which legislative and Congressional district they live in simply by keying in the address.

On another issue for the AIRC, attorneys Mike Liburdi and Lisa Hauser recently filed a public records request, apparently hoping to find something that will keep their lawsuit against the commission from being dismissed as being frivolous.

As far as I can tell, no new pleadings or briefs have been filed in court on any of the Republican lawsuits against the AIRC since the last time I posted on the subject.


Kory Langhofer, attorney for Ken Cheuvront's mother, Jean McDermott, has filed a notice of appeal challenging the Superior Court ruling removing her from the primary election ballot. The minute entry issued by Judge Arthur Anderson explaining his decision to remove McDermott is included as Exhibit A on the notice. An exerpt:

A.R.S. § 16-311(G) provides:
The nomination paper shall include the exact manner in which the candidate desires to have the person's name printed on the official ballot and shall be limited to the candidate's surname and given name or names, an abbreviated version of such names or appropriate initials such as “Bob” for “Robert”, “Jim” for “James”, “Wm.” for “William” or “S.” for “Samuel”. Nicknames are permissible, but in no event shall nicknames, abbreviated versions or initials of given names suggest reference to professional, fraternal, religious or military titles. No other descriptive name or names shall be printed on the official ballot, except as provided in this section. Candidates' abbreviated names or nicknames may be printed within quotation marks. The candidate's surname shall be printed first, followed by the given name or names.
The Court finds that on her nomination paper, Defendant listed her surname (i.e., her last name) as “Cheuvront-McDermott.” It is undisputed that “Cheuvront-McDermott” is not Defendant’s surname, even though she might be known to others as “Ms. Cheuvront” or “Ms. Cheuvront-McDermott.”2 (See Resp. at 5-6.) In this regard, Defendant asserts that “Cheuvront” is a nickname. Although § 16-311(G) permits a candidate to list a nickname, the Court does not construe this section to permit a nickname to be listed in lieu of or a part of a candidate’s surname. Assuming without deciding that “Cheuvront” is in fact Defendant’s nickname3, her assertion would have more merit had she listed her surname as “McDermott” and her given name and nickname as “Jean Cheuvront.” 

Defendant argues she should not be excluded from the ballot because her petition was in substantial compliance with statutory requirements. The issue is whether the listing of her surname as “Cheuvront-McDermott” was a mere technical departure from form, or whether it could confuse or mislead voters. See Bee v. Day, 218 Ariz. 505, 507 (2008). The issue is not whether Defendant could campaign under the “Cheuvront” name or otherwise make it known to voters that she is a “Cheuvront.” By listing her surname as “Cheuvront-McDermott,” Defendant’s contended-nickname, “Cheuvront,” will appear first, reading left to right. (Resp. at 6.) The Court finds that this violates the plain language of the statute.
Furthermore, to the extent “Cheuvront” is urged as a “descriptive nickname” or “surname nickname” these unique formulations do not satisfy the plain language of the statute or bring this petition into substantial statutory compliance.
The Court finds that Defendant’s petition is not in substantial compliance with the statute.
Because this is an election related case, the Arizona Supreme Court will have to deal with it pretty quickly. For this primary election, early voting begins August 2.

When Langhofer sets forth his argument, I will post it.


Of course, today was a big day politically and legally for the great (and sometimes wacky) State of Arizona.

Ted Simons and Arizona Horizon provided local analysis of the legal and political issues related to the US Supreme Court gutting SB1070. Two ASU law professors and an immigrant advocate share their legal insights. Former House Minority Leader John Loredo also faces off with current House Appropriations Chair John Kavanagh on the political ramifications.

Loredo makes key points about the role of ALEC and the private prison industry's role in development of Arizona's draconian immigration legislation.

Kavanagh (who also reads the Arizona Eagletarian) probably feels he won that argument, but I'd put that in the same category as Gov. Brewer declaring victory over today's ruling. He denies ALEC had any role, saying he was in the strategy sessions for developing SB1070.

In my mind, what is notable about Kavanagh's rhetoric is that he does not have to worry about a challenge from a Democratic candidate for the seat he now holds in the Arizona House of Representatives. First, no Democratic candidate filed nominating petitions for a seat from that district. Second, the REASON no Democrat filed is because, by all of the competitiveness index tables used by the AIRC in development of the map, show Republicans with at least a 61 percent registration or performance advantage (to 38 percent or so for Democrats).

So, Kavanagh can be as outrageous as he wants to be. For the most part. There is, however, a third Republican seeking one of the two seats in the Arizona House there. But with Kavanagh and Michelle Ugenti being incumbents, how realistic is it for Jennifer Petersen to think she could oust the House Appropriations committee chairman?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- should Ken Bennett resign to run?

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has seemed determined, over the last month or so, to jettison his wholesome, non-controversial image as a fair-minded conservative politician in a state known nationally for controversial, even somewhat crazy policies. After the waters calmed from his thrashing about in May, he has stepped in another mess, this time again stoking the partisan anxieties of tea party types with speculation about President Obama.

Arizona House Minority Leader Chad Campbell has called on Bennett to resign either his position with the Romney campaign OR as Secretary of State.

The current overlap of Bennett's responsibilities hearkens back to the 2000 Presidential campaign when Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris figured prominently in the George W Bush's campaign.  That year, Florida ended up being the fulcrum on which the US Supreme Court's decision to award the Presidency to Bush tilted. Not coincidentally, Harris won a seat in Congress in 2002.

If ever there was an opportunity to learn the lesson of history BEFORE it repeats, this seems to be just that.

So, I will echo Campbell's call for Bennett to resign one or the other position.

And if Bennett will NOT heed the voice of the people, we must raise our voice on this issue.


Former Arizona Senate President Bennett has already signaled his intent to run for governor in 2014. Amy Chan, state elections director, who reports to Bennett in her official capacity, acknowledged to the Arizona Eagletarian that Bennett has indeed begun collecting nominating petition signatures in that quest.

A couple of individuals recently called my attention to this issue because of Arizona's "Resign-to-Run" law. That law states:
Except during the final year of the term being served, no incumbent of a salaried elective office, whether holding by election or appointment, may offer himself for nomination or election to any salaried local, state or federal office. 
According to Ballotpedia, five states currently have resign-to-run laws on the books, Arizona being one of the five.

In 2009, several incumbent Arizona elected officials had signaled intent to run for other offices in 2010. Arizona Democratic Party executive director Luis Heredia filed a complaint against John Huppenthal, then a state senator, because he had begun collecting nominating petition signatures before reaching the one year mark prior to when he was then just "exploring" a run for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Because a similar allegation had been leveled at Attorney General Terry Goddard (who ran for governor in 2010), he declared a conflict of interest and referred the complaint to Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall. LaWall issued a 9-page opinion declaring none of the candidates in question had violated Arizona law. 

The Arizona Republic, in 2009, quoted former assistant Atty Gen Lisa Hauser on the issue, "Hauser said the law has enough ambiguities to make prosecution difficult."

LaWall's opinion also recommended the legislature modify the law, which it apparently did or tried to do during the 2011 regular legislative session. HB2304 (Elections Omnibus) was passed and signed into law. On page 29 of the bill, the following language was added to A.R.S. 16-903 (Candidates' campaign committees; exploratory committees):
After designating an exploratory committee, a candidate may lawfully collect signatures on nominating petition and receive contributions.
Based on my discussion with Chan, it appears that Bennett's office considers those ambiguities to have been resolved in favor of him lawfully -- now still about two and a half years prior to when he plans to be on the 2014 general election ballot for governor -- collecting signatures on nominating petitions. But I'm still puzzled by the fact that saying a CANDIDATE may lawfully collect signatures resolves constitutional language saying a person is not allowed TO BE A CANDIDATE.


Nevertheless, the conflict  -- between his advocacy for Mitt Romney to win this year and prevent President Obama from winning re-election and Bennett's position responsible for ensuring the integrity of Arizona's elections -- is dramatically obvious. I'm not sure there is a direct legal course of action to force Bennett to choose between those two positions.

However, there may still be outstanding ambiguity regarding the resign-to-run law that a resourceful and diligent team of lawyers could use to put pressure on Bennett anyway. 

Also from the Arizona Republic's coverage in 2009:

[Amelia] Cramer, [chief deputy] of the Pima County Attorney's Office, noted that prosecutors have to examine both the state Constitution and state law when weighing cases.
The Constitution says no elected official can seek a new political post until in the last year of his or her current office; voters in 1980 passed a resign-to-run law to give that provision some further definition.
The law states that an individual has made his or her candidacy official once he or she files nomination papers or makes a "formal public declaration of candidacy."
It might have worked: Most officeholders wait until the last year of their term to announce their next political ambition. They form exploratory committees, which the law allows, and dance around questions of their next political goal.
Still, debate swirls around what constitutes a "formal public declaration."
I'm not sure 2011's HB2304 clarified what constitutes a formal public declaration. 

To recap Arizona's Resign-to-Run law, the state constitution says (Article 22, Section 18):
Except during the final year of the term being served, no incumbent of a salaried elective office, whether holding by election or appointment, may offer himself for nomination or election to any salaried local, State or federal office. 
And Arizona Revised Statutes § 38-296 says:

A. Except during the final year of the term being served, no incumbent of a salaried elective office, whether holding by election or appointment, may offer himself for nomination or election to any salaried local, state or federal office.
B. An incumbent of a salaried elected office shall be deemed to have offered himself for nomination or election to a salaried local, state or federal office upon the filing of a nomination paper pursuant to section 16-311, subsection A or formal public declaration of candidacy for such office whichever occurs first. (emphasis mine)
And while the legislature did take some action, apparently hoping to clarify this situation, it appears that (unless there was some other legislation passed that I haven't heard of or otherwise found) the issue of what constitutes a "formal public declaration of candidacy" is still unresolved in statute or case law.

If litigation is entered into to address this situation, I would expect a lawyer for Bennett to suggest the intent of the legislature was to allow him to collect signatures lawfully prior to the last year as Secretary of State. But I would also expect the attorney for a plaintiff challenging Bennett to cite the intent of voters when they amended the state constitution to preclude what Bennett's doing now.


The bottom line to all of this is that there now exists conflict of interest in that Arizona's chief election officer is also serving as an unabashed, outspoken advocate for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney; that Bennett also has offered himself to the people of the state of Arizona as a candidate for governor for the 2014 election and that Arizona constitutional and statutory law prohibits Bennett from holding office while having offered himself for that 2014 election for governor.

Ken Bennett, widely known in Arizona to be a plainspoken but fair-minded conservative Republican has ventured out publicly over the last few months to talk about this year's presidential race. In so doing, he has garnered national attention, most of which was not in a favorable light.

But as "they say," all publicity is good publicity. Right?


A friend and reader mentioned concern that there has been little to no mention of the connection between Mitt Romney the MORMON Republican presidential candidate and Ken Bennett the MORMON Republican Arizona Secretary of State, in news coverage of Bennett's birther related misadventures. He's (my friend) correct.

There's no denying that there is a very strong presence in Arizona government by Mormon Republicans.  How can we not be concerned for the integrity of this year's presidential race in our state with Bennett having such a strong connection and influence over the process?

I don't have the answer. But we all should be thinking and asking about it. And getting Ken Bennett to make a decision about who he will serve this year.

Friday, June 22, 2012

CD-9 Democratic Primary -- oh how the mighty have fallen!

What does it take to really get to know someone? Someone who has presented himself as an intelligent, confident candidate with seemingly impressive credentials, yet for some reason, many people who have dealt with him more intimately do not seem to trust him.

Such is the dilemma Democratic voters in Arizona's new Ninth Congressional District have this summer with former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Andrei Cherny.

Right off the bat, having been a co-founder of the public policy journal Democracy, worked as a speechwriter in the Clinton administration, as a prosecutor under former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, authored books and been described by CNN as a "progressive reformer" one cannot help but be impressed.

But what Andrei Cherny tells you about himself on his campaign website is ONLY the good stuff.

Have you ever been asked, in a job interview, what your weaknesses are? How did you answer that question? You do have weaknesses, don't you? I know I do. But I never really figured out how to best answer that question.

Have you ever taken a three day road trip with someone you only knew superficially prior to the trip? You get to know a whole lot about the person (and perhaps yourself) over the course of spending so many hours together without a break in the action.

I've seen Kyrsten Sinema and David Schapira in action, in the heat of the battle known as political wrangling, aka legislating, aka lawmaking, aka getting to the real nitty-gritty of establishing public policy. And I know that neither of the two of them are perfect. But having seen them in legislative action, I am more confident that I know what I would be getting if I were to commit my vote for either of them.

But I have not been on a road trip with Andrei. And I have not seen him actually engaged in the real action of making public policy. But I have seen him in campaign situations and facing voters who want him to deal with hard questions. His approach has not engendered confidence.

Last evening, I learned that four video clips featuring Mr. Cherny -- apparently speaking to Tea Party activists during his 2010 campaign for State Treasurer -- had been posted to YouTube a few days earlier. Those clips show him making what, to any flavor of Democratic voter, would be disturbing statements, explanations of positions and answers to questions. To be fair to him, I wanted to ask him for his side of the story prior to posting the videos in this blog.

Within minutes of me sending him a text message asking him to call me to discuss the situation, Cherny had posted (to his facebook page) what can only be construed as an attempt to preempt the damage his 2010 statements will cause to his chances for being elected.
With the Supreme Court potentially about to rule on health care reform, I'll say it again: we need to defend the Affordable Care Act and build on it to include a public option and end the unconscionable giveaways for drug companies. And Congress needs to look into the ethics of Clarence Thomas whose household has received $1.5 million from health care reform opponents -- which might even include impeachment. Looking out for checks and balances is Congress' job!
Cherny did not call me, did not text me and did not send me any notes on facebook or by email. But clearly, he got my message. Of course, I am disappointed he is not confident enough to talk with me directly to answer my questions. But I'm not surprised. By the way, other people posted the You Tube clips in question to his facebook page and asked him to respond to them. At least some of those questions, he simply deleted.

Instead of responding directly to my query, he tried to deflect by asking people to look at something HE wanted people to believe about his position. The shiny object* defense, to me, reflects a tacit acknowledgment on his part that he doesn't know how to deal with complex issues among people that hold different views and values. The result is that he projects weakness that anyone looking closely can recognize.

So, what is in the video clips that he now is afraid to address head on?

Key quotes from this clip include:

Really quickly I’m proud of what all of you have been doing. What you have done has really put the issue of our country’s financial future up on the front burner for the country and that is a very important public service to all of the people of our country and our state. 

where I sometimes vote for a Democrat and sometimes for a Republican. And I am a fiscal conservative and I am a fiscal conservative before I am a Democrat or a Republican.

I do not know who posted the clips. Cherny could have provided context to help offset some of the concern this raises for Democratic voters, if he had only responded to my request to call. I can say that I recognize one person in the audience, Tea Party activist the Angry RightWing Housewife.

In the next clip, Cherny was asked, "Andrei, do you oppose Obamacare, or do you support it." (At the 9:20 mark into the clip below) He took the microphone and gave a one-word answer, "oppose."

Ducey's response, with conviction and more than one word, "In fact, we oppose Obamacare."

Of course, Doug Ducey makes some fantastic claims as to what he will do to "call out bad ideas" about state spending on out-of-state contractors. Calling them out is apparently all the State Treasurer can do about it. Since he cannot refuse to pay bills lawfully entered into by state agencies. Ducey also promises to conduct quarterly open houses and post teacher salaries online. By the way, because Ducey  acknowledges the camera and asks to be held accountable, there's no way Cherny could claim he did not know he was being recorded.

If Ducey has fulfilled those promises, nobody has reported on it. But that's not what this blog post is about, so I digress.

One now must wonder that if people who voted in the January 2011 election for chair of the Arizona Democratic Party had seen these clips, whether they would have chosen Cherny to lead them then.

And one must now also wonder whether the people who have given wholehearted endorsement to Cherny's candidacy for Congress this year realize who their candidate really is. 


*     It even has a name: SOS - Shiny Object Syndrome. It's not quite ADD/ADHD. It's more that a new idea captures your imagination and attention in such a way that you get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- candidates off the ballot -- who stays, who goes?

A few days ago, Jean McDermott, aka Jean Cheuvront-McDermott, was ordered removed from the primary election ballot for the Democratic nomination for State Representative in LD24.

Yet, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett's website still shows McDermott as an eligible candidate.

State elections director Amy Chan advised the Arizona Eagletarian this afternoon that her office has received informal notification that McDermott plans to appeal the ruling and that's why she still is listed as a candidate. This list (of candidate challenges), however, does currently show that the outcome of the McDermott challenge is that she has been removed.

McDermott is being represented by Kory Langhofer, an associate of Snell and Wilmer. Langhofer told me he plans to file an appeal once the official minute entry is issued on the ruling. He expects to file the appeal tomorrow. I will keep you posted.

Libertarian candidates Kim Allen (Senate, LD11), James Ianozzo (Senate, LD28) and Anthony Prowell (US House, CD1) were all removed from the ballot because signatures of independent (no party designated) voters were disqualified, leaving them without enough actual Libertarian signatures to qualify. This is a unique twist because Democratic and Republican candidates are allowed to submit signatures of independent voters to qualify. Prior litigation by the Libertarian Party had closed that particular provision off from their candidates.

Libertarian Sheila Bilyeu (US Senate) was removed in a default judgment because she did not show up for the hearing in her case.

[May 28, 2015 -- Ms. Bilyeu contacted the Arizona Eagletarian to ask that I remove this reference. She said,
I am actually a Democrat; I tried to get on the ballot as a Libertarian because they don't require but a few signatures to get on the ballot; I was unable to get enough on time to get on the Democrat ballot. One of the Libertarian state officials contested some of my signatures so I didn't get on the ballot; I probably would have dropped out anyway in favor of Carmona. Google has me as a Libertarian and I don't know how to get it off except to email people who have put it on websites saying I am Libertatian Thank you. I WANT BERNIE TO WIN ALSO.] More below (at the end of the post)

The challenge to Raquel Terán's nominating petitions, based on a claim she is not a US citizen, was dismissed. The only other Democrat whose petitions were challenged, Rebecca DeWitt, running to challenge incumbent Congressman Ed Pastor, also survived and will be on the ballot.

Challenges to six Republican candidates were unsuccessful and they will remain on the ballot.


NOTE: I appreciate Ms. Bilyeu contacting me to request clarification of the post. Because there is no error in what I posted, I cannot delete it. But I am willing to provide space for her clarification. Additionally, I enthusiastically applaud her preference for #Bernie2016.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Redistricting -- Lege races and AIRC lawsuit update

The more things change, the more they stay the same... or something like that.

Since we last met, there have been no changes to any of the districts drawn and approved by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission for use in the 2012 legislative and Congressional elections. But there have been developments regarding some of the litigation involving the AIRC and a couple of changes to the field of candidates for races subject to the AIRC maps.

Notable withdrawals of candidates:

  • US Senate candidate David Ruben, a Tucson physician dropped out leaving Richard Carmona unopposed for the Democratic nomination to fill the seat currently occupied by Jon Kyl.
  • Two-time loser Jesse Kelly dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for CD2, leaving former USAF fighter pilot Martha McSally and Mark Koskiniemi (a former chemical engineer now working for Pima County government) as the only two GOP candidates now seeking the seat of newly sworn in (just today) Congressman Ron Barber
  • Libertarian Dean Dill withdrew from the LD8 (a competitive district) state House race, apparently in the face of a challenge to his nominating petitions. He then filed as a write-in candidate for that district's Senate race. 
  • The four way race for the two House seats in LD13, changed to a three person race (all Republicans) as Toby Farmer dropped out. Farmer had faced a challenge to his nominating petitions. There are no Democrats running.
A couple of people have filed with the Arizona Secretary of State to be write-in candidates but other than Dean Dill changing from the House race to run for the Senate, none seem all that noteworthy to me at this point. In case you are wondering, an Arizona voter may write-in anyone, but if the vote is to be counted, the candidate must have registered with the SoS before the deadline of July 19 (at 5pm).

Additionally, an independent candidate may be nominated and placed on the general election ballot (the deadline for this has already passed). Three candidates apparently have qualified, former Republican elected official Tom Rawles, former Republican member of the Arizona House Doug Quelland as well as Brent Fine. Fine is an avid reader of the Arizona Eagletarian and seeks a House seat from LD18 (Chandler, South Tempe and Ahwatukee). Rawles is challenging Republican Senate President Steve Pierce for the LD1 Senate seat. 

The Arizona Secretary of State has also posted a list of Congressional and legislative candidates who have had their nominating petitions challenged in Maricopa County Superior Court. On the list, seven Republicans, six Libertarians and three Democrats. Including:

  • Rebecca DeWitt, Democratic primary challenger to incumbent Rep. Ed Pastor
  • Jean Cheuvront-McDermott (Ken Cheuvront's mother), Democratic primary challenger for House seat in LD24
  • Raquel Terán, Democratic primary challenger to incumbent state Sen. Robert Meza.
Terán says she will win the challenge, which falsely claims she is not a US citizen, and that she will mount "a robust primary challenge to incumbent Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix," according to the Arizona Republic. 

More to come as rulings are made on these challenges or if the candidates withdraw.

By the way, last week, Democratic activist Lois Pfau challenged the nominating petitions for independent candidate Mike Stauffer, who is running for Maricopa County Sheriff. Democrats believe that having an third candidate on the general election ballot will split the anti-Arpaio vote and assure Arpaio's re-election. No word yet on the status of Pfau's lawsuit.


The Arizona Republic reports this evening that Ken Cheuvront's mother, Jean McDermott, who tried to use her son's name on the ballot, was disqualified. McDermott's attorney apparently plans, according to the Republic, to appeal that ruling.


The AIRC still faces several actions in federal and/or state court. Thus far, none of the lawsuits have been dismissed but motions for dismissal have also not been denied. So, those rulings are still pending.

The stipulated briefing schedule in federal court for the challenge to legislative maps was apparently adopted by the federal court and AIRC counsel advised that a hearing is expected in August on the motion for dismissal. There may be additional documents filed with the court next week. If so, I will post about it then. Lisa Hauser and Mike Liburdi filed an amended complaint, earlier this month, apparently hoping that stronger wording will give them a better chance of not having the case dismissed. Attorneys familiar with the case said that there really did not seem to be much, if anything substantive added to strengthen the plaintiffs' position. The complaint is more than 150 pages, but you can get a look at what was changed in this pdf (only 49 pages). 

Additionally, on June 11, the Navajo Nation filed notice of appearance, a motion to intervene as well as an additional motion to dismiss the federal court challenge to the legislative district map. 

The AIRC is still working to prepare response to the legislature's lawsuit (seeking to declare the AIRC unconstitutional). The hubris displayed by legislative GOP leadership is still pretty astounding. Using taxpayer funds for a blatantly partisan purpose. There really should be more outrage at just the thought of those bozos daring to spend general fund money trying to completely nix voter approved Independent Redistricting. 

There WILL be a massive outrage, however, if the lawsuit is begins, at all, to gain traction. The ramifications would be felt not only in Arizona if a federal court rules in favor of the legislature. It also occurs to me that in such a scenario, we would expect numerous amicus briefs from citizen groups throughout the US.

In the meantime, there is pending action related to the Open Meeting issue (in the Arizona Court of Appeals), the Congressional map (in Maricopa County Superior Court) and the two federal court suits (challenging the legislative map as well as the entire concept of independent redistricting).

In light of the four REPUBLICAN initiated lawsuits, the AIRC had requested a FY 2013 (which begins July 1, 2012) appropriation of $1.7 million. The legislature approved $1.45 million. If any of the lawsuits are drawn out and lengthy, that $1.45 million will not be enough.  AIRC exec. dir. Ray Bladine said he is working on a budget and expects to be able to present it to the commissioners when they next meet (probably the second week of July). At that time, they will have to take official action to extend or renew contracts for legal services as well as with Strategic Telemetry.

Bladine also said the Auditor General has advised it expects to issue a final report on the AIRC in August.

And for my Tea Party friends in Tucson who have, from time to time, complained that I get AIRC information before anyone else, I have to say that I felt a little bit disappointed when, over the last weekend, I found out about the Navajo Nation filings only by reading an Albuquerque Journal story dated last Wednesday (June 13).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Redistricting -- Here we go again: AZ lege sues IRC UPDATED 10:10pm MST 6-7-12

Before the spring session ended, both chambers of the Arizona Legislature passed motions* specifically aimed at challenging the decision of voters (Prop 106, year 2000) hoping to strike down the entire concept of independent redistricting.

Today, lawyers for the GOP supermajority in each chamber filed the legal action in federal court.

The essence of the lawsuit is captured in the opening text:
The Elections Clause of the United States Constitution delegates the authority over the redistricting of congressional districts to the Legislatures of the States. Contrary to this constitutional delegation, Proposition 106 (adopted in 2000) amended the Arizona Constitution – removing that authority from the Arizona State Legislature (“Legislature”) and vesting it instead with the “Independent Redistricting Commission” (“IRC”). The Legislature brings this action requesting the Court to a) declare that Proposition 106 is unconstitutional to the extent it removes congressional redistricting authority from the Legislature, and b) enjoin the Defendants from enforcing or implementing any congressional redistricting plan from the IRC beginning the day after the 2012 congressional election is held in Arizona. Though the Legislature seeks permanent injunctive relief, it does not seek immediate relief as to the 2012 congressional election because the current IRC plan has already been certified and the
2012 election cycle is already well underway. 

It also demonstrates the fundamental hubris of these buzzards (the GOP supermajority) in declaring that THEY, the GOP supermajority, are the ones the US Constitution delegates all authority not specifically reserved to the federal government, the individual citizen be damned.

Of course, James Madison would vociferously argue that point. And he would use much of the same language that the GOP supermajority regularly uses to denigrate the federal government, claiming the tyranny of big government, for example:

All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.

There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

Nevertheless, Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission counsel Joe Kanefield's immediate response (answer in court to the lawsuit to come in the near future) was thus:
The Arizona Constitution provides that all political power is inherent in the people and the people are provided the same lawmaking power and authority enjoyed by the Legislature. The U.S. Supreme Court long ago recognized this joint legislative authority and refused to draw a distinction between the people and the legislature under the Election Clause. Any such challenge raised today is likely to quickly be dismissed under this longstanding precedent.
Here's the Election Clause:
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.

When AIRC counsel files the official response to the lawsuit, I will post it to the blog.


* journal of each chamber for May 2, 2012 included as an exhibit to the lawsuit. In the journal, the specific language of each motion is recorded and can be read therein.

UPDATE 10:10pm MST 6-7-12

The 10-page complaint filed on behalf of House Speaker Andy Tobin and Senate President Steve Pierce asks for relief as follows:

An actual controversy exists within this Court’s jurisdiction that would be resolved by a declaration of the rights and other legal relations of the parties in this action – namely, that Prop. 106 violates the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution.
The authority to prescribe the times, places, and manner of congressional elections arises exclusively under the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution. The States do not have the inherent authority to regulate federal elections. 
The Constitution delegates and conveys the authority to prescribe the times, places, and manner of congressional elections only to “the Legislature” of “each state.” U.S. Const. art. I, § 4, cl. 1. This delegation is a broad grant of power to the Legislature to prescribe the means by which congressional elections are held.

The word “Legislature” in the Elections Clause means the representative body which makes the laws of the people.
No State can constitutionally divest its Legislature entirely of the redistricting authority conveyed by Article I, Section 4.

Yet Prop. 106 removes entirely the constitutionally-delegated authority over prescribing the boundaries of congressional districts from the Arizona Legislature. In so doing, Prop. 106 conflicts directly with the United States Constitution and is therefore preempted, null and void.
Plaintiff is therefore entitled to judgment declaring that the provisions of Proposition 106 concerning congressional redistricting are null and void.

The Legislature respectfully requests that the Court award it the following relief against all Defendants by:
A. Declaring that Proposition 106 violates the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution insofar as it removes the authority to prescribe the times, places, and manner of congressional elections from the Arizona Legislature, and therefore is preempted, null and void;
B. Enjoining Defendants and each of them permanently from adopting, implementing or enforcing any congressional map created under Proposition 106 beginning the day after the 2012 congressional election in Arizona, and
C. Awarding Plaintiff such other relief as is just, proper, or equitable under the facts and circumstances of this case.

Now, I ask you, is this NOT the height of hubris?

Not one place in this lawsuit is there ANY citation of any case law showing prior court consideration of this question or any court having set a direct, indirect or parallel precedent whereby any provision in the U.S. Constitution delegating any duty, responsibility, authority or privilege to a state legislature must ONLY be handled by the officially convened legislature as opposed to by direct decision of the citizenry/electorate by ballot measure.

Not ONE citation of case law. None. Zilch. Zip. Nada. No case law discussing the definition of "Legislature." And really, set aside the underlying question of what Tobin and Pierce are really wanting to accomplish by getting redistricting authority back and the whole lawsuit turns on what the definition is for this one word.

Stepping back to get some perspective, the entire lawsuit simply says, essentially, we don't like it that the PEOPLE of Arizona have usurped OUR authority. Heaven forbid they suggest that the sovereignty belongs to the voter. If the electorate has delegated its public policy setting authority to the legislature, can the electorate NOT take back that authority?

The bottom line question that Arizonans need to ask, and demand that Andy Tobin and Steve Pierce answer is, what stake do YOU have -- as Arizona lawmakers, in where the lines for Congressional districts are drawn?

What is it that I am missing? I could see members of the Arizona Legislature being concerned about where the legislative district lines are drawn. That question answers itself intuitively. But that's not what this lawsuit is about.

There is no indication in this lawsuit of what Tobin and Pierce feel that the People of Arizona took away from them by removal of redistricting the Congressional lines.

Do they want the power to command Arizona's Congressional delegation be obligated to them? Other than that, what could it be?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- The Future with TOP TWO Primary System UPDATED 11:40pm MST 6/5/12

A few days ago, Morrison Institute's senior research fellow, David Berman -- in an op-ed published by the Arizona Republic -- offered his prospective view of what we can expect if the TOP TWO political primary system is adopted by voters in our state in November. (The actual proposal is found on the Arizona Secretary of State's website, labeled C-03-2012)

Proponents of the measure say this:
This measure will allow all Arizonans, regardless of party affiliation, to vote in a single open primary for the candidates of their choice. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary will compete in the general election. There will be a level playing field for all voters and candidates, and the current system of taxpayer-funded partisan primaries will be abolished. This reform will promote open government and encourage the election of candidates who will work together for the good of the state.
Arizona has been on the leading edge of some recent trends (experiments, perhaps) to change how public policy is established (i.e. independent redistricting, Clean Elections, etc.). However, we can learn from the history and experience of other states on this one before taking the plunge and committing to another experiment.

Berman's analysis partly echoed the hopes of proponents, stating:
Because party primaries traditionally have been low-turnout affairs, the few partisan voters who do show up tend to be from the opposite ends of the ideological scale -- far to the right in Republican primaries and far to the left in Democratic primaries. Moderates from both parties often fail to survive the primary, so much so that few even try.
Instead, nominees tend to be more ideological than voters who generally identify with either of the major parties.
The HOPE then, with this initiative, is to give Independent voters -- in Arizona that means No Party Designated -- the opportunity to have a stronger voice in the choice of candidates for offices, notably the Arizona Legislature. But will it?

Berman sees ways partisans can still manipulate the system.
Supporters of the top-two vote-getter proposal argue that the election system should be reshaped to encourage a level of greater moderation, if not participation. Otherwise, the proposal's proponents say, the current system's end result -- certainly as shown in the state Legislature -- is somewhat predictable: ideological extremism.
That could be why, the initiative's backers say, lawmakers produce policies and budgets that conflict with the views of a majority of Arizonans. (emphasis mine)
Note the word COULD. Berman, a political scientist, made a career in researching electoral behavior and trends. If there was research to support the backers' claims, do you think that Berman would have hedged and instead use a more definitive explanation of the desired results?

The stated central objective of the top-two primary plan is to elect more "moderate" candidates, but not in the generic sense of the word.
Rather, it is to influence the selection of "less-extreme" candidates in both the primary and general election by encouraging candidates to appeal to a broader constituency, not simply to the extreme members of their own party who are most likely to vote in a primary under present practice.
After describing how, conceptually, the proponents' vision would work IDEALLY, Berman goes on to say:

This does not, however, guarantee that the most extreme candidates are destined to lose in the primary. This depends in large part on the number of candidates who enter the primary, as well as those candidates' ideological dispositions. 

For example, in a crowded primary in which the vote is distributed among a number of similarly positioned "moderates," it's possible for a very conservative candidate with a narrow but efficacious constituency to gather enough votes to advance to the general election, setting up an extremist-vs.- moderate showdown. (emphasis mine)
And along comes California. Our neighbor to the west took Arizona's lead and enacted Independent Redistricting for the 2011 cycle. But that very large state got in on the TOP TWO primary model before we even had the chance to try it. I think that's a good thing. Because NOW, we get to learn from the lessons of California's contemporary history. From The Daily Beast:
Orly Taitz, queen of the birthers, is on the ballot Tuesday in California. She is running as a Republican to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein for reelection. And polls show that Taitz just might make the top-two cut and be an official challenger in the fall.
It’s hard to overstate just how bad that would be for the Golden State GOP.
An avowed birther activist and litigant, dentist, attorney, mother of three, and Moldovan immigrant who radiates instability could be the standard-bearer of the party of Reagan in the largest state in the nation. Is this a great country or what?

When the record of today's California primary election results comes in, we will see just what the TOP TWO primary system means in practice. Not that I particularly care whether the "Golden State GOP" has to deal with a major headache like Orly Taitz. But really, if she emerges victorious from this primary, will it not provide another emotional high five to the "birther" movement?

Would Arizona voters REALLY like to see our state's birther prince, Carl Seel attract national fame and campaign contributions from nutjobs from Seattle to Miami or Boston to San Diego and so many points in between?

Do we really need to go down that path?

Berman closes with this:
Arizona, however, does appear to be a prime state for switching to a top-two system. Only a handful of our 30 legislative districts can be said to be competitive, and that equation won't change significantly even after redistricting* this year.
Although a top-two primary system is no magic bullet, either, it may well encourage more moderate candidates to run and less extreme candidates to get elected, resulting in a government more reflective of Arizona's general voter sentiment. (emphasis mine)
There he goes hedging again. Those who fail to heed the lessons of history...

In this case, one very important lesson comes when California's polls close this evening.


* By the way, it may not come solely because of the modest increase in competitive districts this year, but a look at the candidates who qualified for the August legislative primary already shows that there will be significant changes at the Capitol come January.

UPDATE 11:40pm MST 6/5/12

It seems California is dodging the birther bullet this evening, with Orly Taitz trailing the pack in the TOP TWO primary for the US Senate seat currently held by Dianne Feinstein.
California's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has more votes than the other 23 challengers running against her combined. With 10 percent of the vote in, the only real question is who will face the uphill challenge of battling the San Francisco powerhouse in November. Some political junkies have hoped the nod would go to Republican Orly Taitz, a Laguna Nigel dentist famous for being one of the nation's most prominent "birthers" who claim President Obama was not born in the United States. At the moment, Taitz is running back in the pack, with 2.9 percent of the vote. Feinstein has 50.4 percent. And second place is Republican Elizabeth Emken of Danville.
However, that 2.9 percent of the vote apparently translates to more than 50,000 actual votes. Just think about how much more energy tea partisans and birthers have in Arizona than in California before you decide whether tonight's lesson on the TOP TWO is a relief or a foreboding signal of what could take place in a summer primary with so many sun-baked birthers. It was, after all, June 30 of last year when the tea partisans stormed the AIRC business meeting in Tucson to start months of political squawking.

I'd also recommend to Arizona Eagletarian readers a blog post by Democratic Diva, Donna Gratehouse that provides additional insight on this issue.