Friday, August 29, 2014

Arizona Primary results update (UPDATED 8-30-14 2:45pm MST)

From Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett's office late this afternoon,

PHOENIX – Arizona’s counties continue to tabulate ballots from the 2014 Primary Election. The following table details the ballots left to be counted, including early and provisional ballots.
State law gives the counties five business days, until the end of Wednesday, September 3, to verify and process the remaining early and provisional ballots.
Election results are unofficial until the Canvass, and by way of gentle reminder, our office does not “call”elections. A state canvass to certify official election results for federal, statewide and legislative races is scheduled for September 8.
 A chart included with the SOS letter shows estimated remaining votes to be tabulated:

In tight legislative nomination races I've been updating the last few days, here's the latest (as of 8/30/14 7:41 am):
  • For LD15 Republican House, incumbent John Allen currently leads birther David Burnell Smith by 7 32 votes.
  • For LD28 Republican House, Shawna Bolick now leads Mary Hamway by 351 390 votes.
  • For LD29 Democratic House, Martin Quezada NOW LEADS Lydia Hernandez by 44 90 votes.


For good measure, here's a screenshot of from a 12News video clip that I thought you would enjoy.

Caption: I am NOT a CROOK!*

* But Felecia Rotellini's general election opponent for Arizona Attorney General is still a Republican and still in favor of taking away women's right to self-determination over their own health and medical decisions.

UPDATED (8 am) vote tallies in the list above on the three tight races.

2:45 pm UPDATE: 12News political reporter Brahm Resnik tweeted earlier today that Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell has indicated all Maricopa County ballots have been tabulated. Therefore, the updated results shown above at 8 am today become the unofficial (until the official canvass) totals, pending recounts that may be undertaken because of close margins.

Redistricting -- is this news?

On Tuesday evening, I posted the latest brief that was filed in Harris v Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. A couple of days later, Howie Fischer wrote a story about the brief. One website posted it with the headline, "Attorney: Arizona redistricting unfairly favored Democrats."

That, of course, is not really any new insight to the situation. Cantelme and Liburdi have been bitching about it, in the name of convicted felon Wes Harris for a couple of years now. Other than the fact that the "high powered attorney" from a DC law firm they got to take the lead in the SCOTUS brief is named Mark F. (Thor) Hearne II, it's not really anything that new.

Naturally, "Thor" (the ancient Norse god of thunder) would figure out what they hope is a thunderously new and exciting way to present the case to the highest court in the land. But it's not really anything but new spin on the old (established and already understood) facts and ruling of law.

The brief opens with,
Questions Presented:
1. Does the desire to gain partisan advantage for one political party justify intentionally creating over-populated legislative districts that result in tens of thousands of individual voters being denied Equal Protection because their individual votes are devalued, violating the one-person, one-vote principle?
Sounds sort of ominous, doesn't it? But there is SOOOOO much, of course, that Thor, er... Mark Hearne, left out in his effort to obscure and obfuscate the situation and the issues.

According to Fischer,
PHOENIX — Claiming illegal political motives, attorneys for Republicans are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to void the lines drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission for the state's 30 legislative districts.
Challengers contend commission members acted improperly when they intentionally "packed'' non-Hispanic Republicans into some districts. That meant remaining districts had a higher proportion of Democrats, giving candidates from that party a better chance of getting elected.
But it's worse than that.
Thor Hearne, lead attorney for the challengers, said the commission accomplished that goal by ignoring constitutional requirements to create districts of equal population. [...]
Hanging in the balance is the political makeup of the Arizona Legislature.
A decision by the Supreme Court in the challengers' favor would force the commission to redraw the maps ahead of the 2016 election, this time with districts of more equal population -- and presumably with more districts favorable to Republicans. And it also would keep future commissions who create new lines every decade from doing the same thing.

Fischer does two things with his news story. First, he rehashes what Arizona Eagletarian readers already know and have known since the AIRC developed and sent the maps off for preclearance. Second, he sensationalizes the situation in hopes of grabbing the attention of people who don't generally follow redistricting. Now that it's election season a few more people might pay attention.

Nevertheless, this is not a new situation. The AIRC will file a response to Thor's brief within the next month (or possibly two). Thor will then get a couple of weeks to respond, then it will be up to the court to decide the matter.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Arizona Primary -- ongoing ballot counting

Pursuant to ARS § 16-602, the Maricopa County Elections Department today conducted a hand count audit of results from Tuesday's primary. I served as a judge in the audit.

Each "board" at the audit, which was conducted at the County Sheriff's training facility, consisted of two judges and an inspector. There were also "auditors" who compared the counts we obtained with the unofficial machine count totals for the batches we counted by hand. The two judges were from different political parties, so I was paired with a Republican who had participated in the process for several election cycles. All told there were about 45 boards.

The procedure is basically as spelled out in the statute.
At least two per cent of the precincts in that county, or two precincts, whichever is greater, shall be selected at random from a pool consisting of every precinct in that county. The county political party chairman for each political party that is entitled to continued representation on the state ballot or the chairman's designee shall conduct the selection of the precincts to be hand counted. The precincts shall be selected by lot without the use of a computer, and the order of selection by the county political party chairmen shall also be by lot. The selection of the precincts shall not begin until all ballots voted in the precinct polling places have been delivered to the central counting center. The unofficial vote totals from all precincts shall be made public before selecting the precincts to be hand counted.
And for Early Ballots,
After the electronic tabulation of early ballots and at one or more times selected by the chairman of the political parties entitled to continued representation on the ballot or the chairman's designee, the chairmen or the chairmen's designees shall randomly select one or more batches of early ballots that have been tabulated to include at least one batch from each machine used for tabulating early ballots and those ballots shall be securely sequestered by the county recorder or officer in charge of elections along with their unofficial tally reports for a postelection manual audit. The chairmen or the chairmen's designees shall randomly select from those sequestered early ballots a number equal to one per cent of the total number of early ballots cast or five thousand early ballots, whichever is less. From those randomly selected early ballots, the county officer in charge of elections shall conduct a manual audit of the same races that are being hand counted pursuant to subsection B of this section.
I was assigned, with 15 or so other boards, to audit Early Ballots. This is significant because of a semi-pervasive myth that provisional ballots are only counted if a particular race is close enough to matter. Prior to election day, I participated in an online discussion where one person seemed to be convinced of the veracity of that myth. I can tell you that is simply not a true myth. Every vote gets counted.

Nevertheless, because election systems and processes are very complicated, the myth persists along with a general skepticism about the integrity of the processes and systems. Because Maricopa County is the fourth most populous county in the entire country, and because taxpayers hate paying taxes, the complexity is compounded. We have to deal with old, somewhat outdated equipment. But procedures are adjusted (and hopefully improved) with every election cycle.

Two notable examples of problems in Maricopa County's not too distant history include,
  • A 2010 lawsuit against Maricopa County elections for, among other things, selecting the precincts to be audited by hand prior to publication of the unofficial results of the vote totals for EVERY precinct (there are more than a thousand in our county).
  • A notorious 2004 election in which a recount produced a substantially different total than the original tabulation (McComish vs Orlich in LD20, which is now LD18).

Because I learned of the 2010 lawsuit after coming home to write about the hand count audit, I had to figure out how the lawsuit was resolved before I felt comfortable continuing. Maricopa County settled one of the most significant claims in the suit just prior to the start of the trial. Specifically, about publishing the unofficial vote totals for all precincts in the country BEFORE the political party chairs select the precincts to be audited. The video above explains more about why that's important. As I understand it, the 2014 primary election unofficial vote totals by precinct were published prior to selection of the precincts to audit.

Earlier in 2010, the Arizona Democratic Party passed a resolution written by attorney Bill Risner on the subject of election integrity that is relevant to this subject.

When all was said and done today regarding the hand count audit in Maricopa County, I had more confidence in the integrity of the system. A major factor today is that all of the Democratic and Republican volunteers were all intent on doing their utmost to ensure the integrity of what they were doing.


As of 5pm or so this evening, the latest results in some close legislative primaries, updated from last night's tallies, show:
  • Martin Quezada now trails Lydia Hernandez (LD29 Dem Senate) by 30 votes
  • Shawna Bolick now leads Mary Hamway (LD28 Rep House) by 182 votes
  • David Burnell Smith now leads incumbent John Allen (LD15 Rep House) by 19 votes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Arizona Primary reflections; Redistricting

Brief update on last night's post of the SCOTUS appeal brief filed by the Harris plaintiffs. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has 30 days to respond to the brief, aka the Jurisdictional Statement, unless the AIRC requests an extension which would make it 60 days. After the AIRC files its reply brief, the plaintiffs then have 14 days, as I currently understand it, to respond to that, which would then be the final item filed by the parties in this lawsuit.


As to last night's election results, my first order of business is to congratulate and rejoice in some key victories for the good guys. In Tempe, visionary community leaders Lauren Kuby and David Schapira garnered enough votes -- in the 7-way primary for three seats -- to win outright. In other words, the next step is swearing in rather than appearing on the November ballot for a run off. The winner of the remaining seat will be determined in November.

Tempe voters also amended the city charter to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Ken Clark also won his LD24 House Democratic primary and will head to the general election along with incumbent Lela Alston to face off against Republican Lei Lani Cortez. LD24 leans strongly Democratic. Clark handily defeated former firefighter Richard Bauer.

Clark's victory demonstrates the concept that organized people present a formidable foe against organized money, illustrated below.

Alas, not all key races turned out as well as they should have. Right now it looks like Catherine Miranda, clearly a tool for Arizona Public Service and Dominionist Cathi Herrod, defeated Aaron Marquez. Marquez would not be nearly as encumbered by obligation to special interests as Miranda.

Too close to call, the LD29 senate primary between Martin Quezada and Lydia Hernandez appears headed for an automatic recount as they are now separated by only 36 votes.

Another ray of sunshine, sort of, comes from the fact that each of the Republican candidates this year who voted in favor of the Medicaid restoration bill in 2013 staved off more conservative (Tea Party) candidates they faced yesterday. I say "sort of" because one of them is state Rep. Jeff Dial (running this year for senate in LD18). Dial is pretty close to the top of the list when it comes to being bought off by lobbyists.

Bottom line is that we've made some progress, but there's still plenty that needs to be done to rid Arizona of the influence of Big (and Dark) Money.

Also in the category of EVERY VOTE COUNTS, right now Republican primaries in LD15 and LD28 are extremely close. In LD15, Rep. Heather Carter won re-election to the House convincingly (no Democratic candidates ran in that district, so the primary decides who will serve in the 52nd Legislature) but fellow incumbent John Allen holds a 9-vote lead over birther David Burnell Smith.

In LD28, former Paradise Valley Councilwoman Mary Hamway holds a mere 7-vote lead over Shawna Bolick (wife of Goldwater Institute lawyer Clint Bolick). Bolick is a strong advocate for undermining public education (she characterizes it as "parental choice").

All of these races have and will impact the tone and flavor at the legislature in 2015. Some other key races will not be decided until after the November election.

More to come in the next few days as we learn how the primary will officially shake out. Hopefully, the shakedown dance between lobbyists and lawmakers will not be the dominant theme in 2015.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Redistricting -- SCOTUS brief filed in Harris case

It's been a very LONGGGG day. I spent it all, from before opening to after closing at the polling place in my home precinct. In person turnout was awfully low. We had only 50 or so voters come in all day.

However, I received a copy of the Jurisdictional Statement filed by Harris (represented by David Cantelme, Mike Liburdi along with attorneys in DC and LA) with the Supreme Court of the United States to appeal the district court ruling handed down in April this year in favor of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. I wanted to post it this evening for your reading enjoyment (j/k).

I'll try to write more about this situation tomorrow. In the meantime, consider that the Shelby County ruling invalidating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (the preclearance formula provision) was a consideration in the district court decision. A highlight of Shelby County was Scalia and friends declaring that racial discrimination in America is not the issue it was in the 1960s (when the VRA was first passed by Congress). But Ferguson, Missouri has demonstrated that SCOTUS wasn't necessarily correct in that assessment.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Citizen files complaint against Catherine Miranda

This morning, August 25, Ms. Frances Mendoza, a citizen residing in LD27, filed a complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State alleging state Rep. Catherine Miranda committed campaign finance violations including but not limited to illegal coordination with Independent Expenditure/Dark Money operator Mario Diaz and his supposedly IRS designated 501 (c) 4 non-profit, Friends of Arizona.

Mendoza also asks, if Miranda did not spend anything on her campaign, who paid for signs and mailers plainly marked "Paid for by Miranda for Senate 2014?"

Polls open on Election Day in less than 16 hours from now.

More than anything, we need integrity in our elected officials. Catherine Miranda is not such a person.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How does Catherine Miranda campaign all summer and NOT spend even one thin dime?

Anti-choice candidate Catherine Miranda, competing for the Democratic nomination for the LD27 senate seat against Army Reserve Capt. Aaron Marquez, collected $15,730.00 this summer, mainly from lobbyists and PACs, according to her latest campaign finance report, but spent not even a dime.

There ARE plenty of her campaign signs along major streets in LD27, and there have been plenty of pro-Miranda mailers sent to voters, but Catherine apparently has not had to spend any of her remaining $37,671.95 war chest on any of them.

How does that happen?

First, I'm not convinced it did happen. She might have made inadvertent or intentional mistakes on her report.

Second, we know that APS, Cathi Herrod and Mario Diaz have been spending generously on campaign signs and mailers on her behalf. So, even though it's extremely unlikely Miranda actually did not incur any campaign expenses, she still has had others spending generously. We also know that Miranda is a good and loyal soldier for our state's largest investor owned utility (APS) and for Dominionists like Cathi Herrod. So, we shouldn't be surprised that those whose interests she actually represents in the legislature are willing to return the favor.

By the way, Miranda's largest campaign contributions this summer have come from chambers of commerce PACs ($3,000.00), an out-of-state lawyer ($1,000.00) and something called Cactus PAC ($1,000.00). Cactus PAC gave Miranda a thousand dollars and a Phoenix, Arizona address. But Cactus PAC does not appear to show up as registered with the Arizona Secretary of State as a political action committee.

So many questions about one sell out candidate, so few answers.

What good are newspaper or interest group endorsements?

Back when I worked with the John Dougherty 2010 campaign for the Democratic nomination for US Senate, I began to recognize a very frustrating game that interest groups (and newspapers) play regarding endorsements.

Striking in my mind that year was the fact that the Sierra Club declined to endorse the only candidate in that four way race who had a clear track record favorable to that club's authentic interest. Dougherty had, for years written about environmental issues. He knew them inside and out and had clearly exposed the nefarious and sinister actions (and failures to act) by government officials.

So, WHY would the Sierra Club not endorse such a candidate? There must be other factors at play (work) in endorsements that rarely, if ever, are even acknowledged, let alone explained.

The local daily newspaper, the Arizona Republic, is a classic example. If any institution should be forthcoming about the criteria used and factors considered in making endorsements, one would expect a news enterprise to be among them. Several of the Republic's endorsements this primary election season give rise to cognitive dissonance. They just don't seem quite right, on the surface.

To really understand, we would have to go beneath the surface. But that information is not always available.

Most poignantly the Republic's endorsement of State Treasurer "Scoop" Ducey this summer in the GOP gubernatorial primary raises such red flags. So much so that they acknowledged readers' concern over it. But as eloquent as the news enterprise tries to be in justifying the endorsement, so many people recognize that there must have been considerations not disclosed in making that decision.

With that in mind, it is no wonder that voters often select someone other than who the Republic annoints.

Notably problematic, several Democratic legislative primary races expose obvious cognitive dissonance when looking at choices made by the Arizona Education Association and various groups affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

Retired firefighter Richard Bauer, running to be the lowest paid lobbyist for the Firefighters' union, clearly wants to make big time deals with Republican office holders. If he wins the primary, keep a close eye on him because he almost certainly will sell out Democratic interests.

 The Arizona Education Association's list of endorsed candidates shows at least a couple of questionable selections. In contested primary election races, AEA shows favoritism toward incumbents who might not be the best candidate. For example, AEA chose APS and CAP sell out Catherine Miranda over Aaron Marquez and Lupe Contreras over astrophysicist Angela Cotera.

The bottom line is that taking these interest group and newspaper endorsements at face value without checking further can lead to problems when the wrong person gets into the legislature.


The Navajo Times ran a story on Friday about the race between state Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai and appointed (not elected) Sen. Carlyle Begay in the Democratic primary for election to the LD7 senate seat.
So why is she making a run at the state senate seat now occupied by Carlyle Begay?
"He's a nice young man," Peshlakai said of the current senator. "He's super-bright and really charismatic. But as the days at the legislature dwindled down, it just became unacceptable that he would go unchallenged in the primary."
The reason, Peshlakai said, is the number of "disconcerting votes" Begay was casting: siding with Republicans on campaign finance laws, for example, and supporting legislation that would allow payday lenders to up their fees.
"Who does that?" asked Peshlakai. [...]
Peshlakai refrained from calling Begay a Republican plant, as have some liberal political bloggers like Steve Muratore. But she did say "he definitely does not represent the people of District 7," a relatively poor, rural district which tends to be more left-leaning than the rest of the state. 

Technically, I only raised the question of whether Begay is a Republican plant. But the evidence appears substantial at this point.

The tone of public policy and lawmaking at the Arizona Capitol can change in 2015. But for that to happen, it needs to start with voters making the right decisions on Tuesday this week. Among the issues and concerns, if Democrats pick up 3 senate seats (or more) in November, Andy Biggshot be ousted from the senate presidency.

Right now, Republicans hold a 17-13 edge in that chamber. With at least five Republicans being highly vulnerable because of their record in the legislature (both on divisive legislation and pandering to lobbyists), it is conceivable that the edge could swing all the way over to a 17-13 Democratic majority.

Of course, there's no virtue or advantage to counting one's chickens before they hatch, but a 15-15 tie is well within the realm of possibility. In such a scenario, it's extremely likely that Biggshot would first go after Begay (if he wins) to offer inducements to defect. An offer of a committee chairmanship is easily foreseeable.

Remember, elections matter. If you haven't already cast your ballot, make sure you get to the polls on Tuesday. And make considered, informed decisions on for whom to cast your vote.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why does Catherine Miranda have to have volunteers misrepresent her policy positions?

A source told me he had been hearing for some time during the primary election campaign that door-to-door canvassers for state Rep. Catherine Miranda have been telling voters that the candidate, locked in a primary race with Army Reserve Capt. Aaron Marquez, is "pro-choice" on the hot button issue of abortion.

Miranda's record in the legislature and public statements would immediately call such claims into question. 

From Cathi Herrod's Center for Arizona Policy website,
Rep. Catherine Miranda,the only Democrat to support HB 2036 [2012], said:
“I feel all life is sacred.  I firmly believe that how we legislate on abortion reflects the moral values of society, respect for life and dignity of all human beings is a core value of my beliefs.  All of us have to answer to our constituent s every two years when we faced with getting re-elected, but as I have previously stated on the floor, after we leave this legislature, all of us must answer to a higher authority, and with that I vote yes.
In the 2014 legislative session, the GOP majority passed HB2284, which authorizes government harassment of abortion providers/clinics. Again, Miranda was the ONLY member of the House Democratic Caucus to vote with the Republicans.

So, imagine my surprise when I found out a volunteer, in a campaign office supporting Miranda, Mary Rose Wilcox and Norma Mu├▒oz told a prospective voter that Miranda, on the question of abortion is "pro-choice." Well, given that Ms. Miranda has consistently blurred the line between her legitimate constituents and those who she sells her votes to, I guess I'm not really surprised.

Why would there be any uncertainty or ambiguity in a candidate's campaign about such an important topic/issue?

For MORE about Ms. Miranda, and her questionable representation for citizens in the district she's supposed to represent, consult Arizona Eagletarian posts here and here.

In the meantime, as righteous as Miranda's quote (from the CAP website, posted above) might sound, Cathi Herrod and Catherine Miranda are clearly AGAINST freedom. For lawmakers to vote to remove the right for a woman to make her own decisions about her own body is to invalidate that woman's sovereignty (self-determination) over her own life.

Is self-determination a sacred principle in American democracy or isn't it?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Just how bonkers are conservative activists in AZ these days?

A few days ago, right-wing Arizona blog Sonoran Alliance posted a highly implausible hypothetical it gleaned from a rumor mill. Heaven forbid!
I guess I’m a little behind in the rumor mill but this just crossed my input lines. I’ll toss it out to all my legislator friends to confirm.
The rumor is that State Representative Heather Carter has her sights on the House speakership.
How would she accomplish this one may ask?
The first step is to obviously get re-elected to her seat.  Next, she needs the votes of all her Obamacare Republican seatmates. Chances are, a deal was cut sometime ago to whip those votes into place. Carter would then cut a deal with House Democrats to make sure the Republicans (note: these are the majority Republicans who did not vote for Obamacare expansion) don’t hold a majority when it comes to selecting leadership. That deal with Dems would likely include handing over committee chairmanships to Democrats.
Dios mio!

Well, I'm not one of Sonoran Alliance's "legislator friends" but I have to figure this is more over-the-top paranoia than anything plausible. Now, the concept is not unheard of. A decade or so ago, Republican Randall Gnant became Senate President when that chamber ended up with 15 Democrats and 15 Republicans. The structural result was that Democrats ended up with some key committee chair positions.

Of course, the right-wing is attacking Carter because she voted for the Medicaid restoration. In fact, all of the Republicans who did so are now political targets, many of whom are facing primary election challengers. So, why is this rumor implausible?

Primarily because there's a much better candidate for this scenario than Carter. There's one member of the House GOP caucus who already has a reputation as a contrarian and few people dare mess with him. Because he's a BIG guy. That would be Bob Robson who now represents LD18 (west Chandler, south Tempe and Ahwatukee). Two years ago, rumor had Andy Toxin... er, Tobin, removing Robson from his chairmanship of the Rules Committee because he wouldn't always "play ball" the way his caucus wanted him to do. For whatever reason that didn't happen and Robson remained Rules chair.

From perspective of the House Democratic Caucus, a Speaker Robson would likely be less susceptible to bullying from hard core GOP members like Eddie Farnsworth.

Alas, while Sonoran Alliance has not publicly made this connection to Robson, it has attacked him nevertheless.

SA reposted a 47-second video clip (from Arizona Daily Independent) claiming to be evidence of Robson stealing campaign signs. Whether or not somebody witnessed Robson stealing signs, the video is evidence of nothing of the sort.

Nevertheless, what some might consider GOP infighting, others will reasonably label an effort to hold elected officials accountable. Primaries are reasonable accountability efforts. Posting videos of somebody leaving a gas station and calling it criminal activity is not.

But before we completely write off these conservative zealots, it really is important to understand that politics -- ALL politics -- is conflict. Even sneaky, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours style of deals made in the proverbial smoke-filled room is just a way to deal with conflict. Sometimes that's a reasonable way to handle it, sometimes it's not.

Ultimately, however, empowering an informed electorate is crucially important for restoring sanity at the Arizona Legislature.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Valley Interfaith Project candidate forum, LD18 and 26

This afternoon, a couple hundred people gathered at Dayspring United Methodist Church in Tempe for a Valley Interfaith Project sponsored Candidate Accountability Forum with candidates for the LD18 Senate seat and the four House seats from LD18 and 26.

The event was extremely well organized and the time was managed impeccably. This, of course, limited the scope of what could be accomplished with candidates generally given only one minute to provide answers to questions they were given ahead of time. Moderators focused the heart of the inquiry on education and Medicaid restoration.

The two incumbent Democratic Representatives from LD26, Juan Mendez and Andrew Sherwood were accompanied by Republican James Roy. All three, by the way, are participating (but not yet funded) in the campaign with Clean Elections funding.

Three candidates for the LD18 Senate seat, Democrat Janie Hydrick along with Republican state Rep. Jeff Dial and his primary challenger, former AZ GOP chair Tom Morrissey, showed up and answered the questions. Four candidates for the two LD18 House seats participated, Democrat Mitzi Epstein, incumbent Republican Bob Robson along with fellow GOP candidates David Pheanis and John King. Tea Party candidate Jill Norgaard did not bother to attend.

Because the answers had to be concise (one minute), the discussion of issues (by the candidates) was entirely superficial. But not without value. Perhaps the most important revelations were that Tom Morrissey and James Roy would NOT advocate for bringing Arizona's per student K-12 education funding up to the national average. We are currently very close to the bottom in that category. Morrissey and Roy ALSO indicated they would NOT support continued funding of the Medicaid restoration passed in 2013.

Pheanis and King, though each has some involvement with education and were interested in helping to maintain and increase funding, were otherwise quite unimpressive, to me at least.

Politicians are naturally prone to rambling but sometimes it's necessary in order to understand various nuances in the complex issues. Because there was ZERO audience participation, it was impossible to broach the subject of Jeff Dial being at the top when it comes to perks received from lobbyists.

Robson and Dial, the incumbent LD18 Represenatives, both voted in favor of the Medicaid restoration last year, so it would not necessarily be reasonable to challenge their sincerity on support for continued funding.

After the forum ended, I chatted with Robson. We gave each other a little lighthearted grief. I told him I still remembered the property tax giveaway he engineered for the largely commercial airport operated by a homeowners' association (everything on the east side of the runway is commercial) at Stellar Airpark.

I bring that up concerning Robson because the theme today was accountability and it was important to let him know that wasn't forgotten. However, since there's only one Democrat running in LD18 for one of the two House seats, of the Republican candidates currently in the race, he may be the best available. Robson is not a go along to get along guy in the House Republican caucus and he DID vote for Medicaid restoration.

So, from my perspective, there's no question that Janie Hydrick would be the best choice for LD18 Senate and Mitzi Epstein the best choice for LD18 House. For LD26, I have full confidence that Juan Mendez and Andrew Sherwood will continue representing me (and the rest of the voters in our district) very well.  We will revisit the issue of the LD26 Senate seat and all three seats (one Senate, two House) for LD18 after the primary election.


A friend told me that VIP would be holding a similar forum for LD23 and 28 candidates this week:
LD 23 and LD 28 candidates: August 14 from 7:00pm -- 8:30pm at the Paradise Valley United Methodist Church, 4455 E. Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Why, really, did Robert McDonald come to Phoenix and when will the VA disclose the financial impact of impending privatization?

WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious... It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described , I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is all about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. -- Smedley D. Butler, Major General (ret.), USMC; from War is a Racket, first published in 1935 
General Butler says about himself in the book,
I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism. 
Butler's book and an introduction to it recount an attempted coup against President Franklin D Roosevelt because Big Business feared the New Deal.

Then, when Lyndon Johnson succeeded in ushering Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation through Congress in the 1960s, Big Business again freaked out. This time, the response was the now infamous 1971 Powell Manifesto, written by Lewis Powell, who shortly thereafter was appointed to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court.

Not long after Powell's call to Chambers of Commerce to begin organizing the political power of money, ALEC formed and over the subsequent 40+ years has been advocating heavily for cutting taxes, eliminating regulation (this was shortly after enactment of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act) and privatizing everything that government does.
Although the predominant myths about PRIVATIZATION (whether of prisons or anything else) claim that privatization means tax savings for the public, it actually costs us more. Even though on paper a private agency or corporation may present a lower figure to do the same job, once that money has been taken out of the public's hands, it no longer remains ours. 
In the public sector, tax money tends to make more of itself, meaning that each public dollar paid through one social service will spend itself four to eight times more elsewhere within the public sector. Once public money goes into private hands however, that money stays there and is gone for good. This is especially true if we consider that privatization corporations are usually given handsome tax breaks and "incentives," in the form of what some people call "corporate welfare," which means we are even less likely to see that money again.
This brings me to the VA scandal, broken open by whistleblowers at the Phoenix VA Medical Center in April and reported first by the Arizona Republic. It's likely the reporters who worked that story will be recognized with awards, maybe even a Pulitzer. Their reporting brought pressure to bear on what ended up being a nationwide problem. Congress, notorious over the last couple of years for accomplishing NOTHING, actually held hearings, called VA executives to account and passed a substantive reform bill that will get veterans who had been falling through cracks (crevasses really) expedited primary and specialty care. This is all a very good thing.

To bridge the gap and provide the necessary care NOW for veterans, the VA entered into a contract with privateer TriWest Health Services, a corporate bureaucracy. That's not a joke and not hyperbole. TriWest makes its money by making appointments for veterans with private doctors. It's a paper pushing bureaucracy. TriWest adds ZERO value to the experience an individual patient has with his or her private doctor.

And I have personal experience with TriWest.

In January this year, my primary care doctor (at the VA) referred me for a consultation with a specialist. The doctors who had been working within the Phoenix VAMC in this specialty had either retired or moved away. In February, I received a letter from the VA's fee basis office authorizing the consultation with a private specialist, saying I could go to any doctor in this specialty I wanted to see. A few days later, I received a call from TriWest saying they wanted to make the appointment for me.

Long story short, I was authorized by the VA to make my own appointment, but David McIntyre's private bureaucracy wanted to make money by doing it for me. At the time, I didn't know better, so I let them. Several awkward mistakes by TriWest later, and I had been seen twice by the specialist who ended up only changing a medication for me.

One of TriWest's mistakes was in failing to provide clear instructions to the doctor on how he would get paid. As a result, the doctor billed me. For a fifteen minute consultation, the bill was more than $300.00. I saw him twice. To straighten out the billing problem, Congressman David Schweikert's constituent services staff had to get involved. So, at minimum, the VA paid the private doctor more than $600. That total does not include fees paid to TriWest to open the phone book and find a physician to call and make the appointment.


In the 1990s, working as an accountant for an agency of the State of Arizona, the concept of privatization was front and center. It was a fad even then and the Republican controlled legislature passed an aggressive plan to privatize our state's welfare delivery system (safety net programs).

Government contractor Maximus won the bid for the pilot project to cover several offices in the Phoenix metro area. Not surprisingly, the project did NOT save Arizona taxpayers any money and the project was scuttled. More than 16 years later however, Maximus continues to push its corporatist operation all over the world, currently reporting a whopping third quarter 26 percent increase (to $419.9 million) in revenue over the same period last year.

This is NOT free market, folks. This is crony capitalism. The ONLY place Maximus sells its services is to governments. The only revenue, taxpayer funds.

Now, I don't know how much McIntyre's private bureaucracy cost taxpayers, but there are a few related items we can know. First, McIntyre, in response to questions while testifying before the House Veterans Affairs Committee in June told Congress that HE "paid $20 million for the privilege" of providing the service to the VA. During his opening statement, he told the committee that they should expect "candor, openness and collaboration from all of us." But when ever he or anyone from the VA was asked (and they were asked many times) about how much this contract would cost taxpayers, the response was not candor and openness. In fact, it was never answered. One has to ask, why would McIntyre "pay $20 million for the privilege..." if he's CEO of a FOR PROFIT corporation?

VA assistant deputy undersecretary Philip Matkovsky specifically declined to answer those questions. He improperly cited the concept "privity of contract." In the context of his response, Matkovsky implied that the expression meant that he was required to NOT disclose costs or answer the questions. But that's not what the expression means. To my knowledge, Matkovsky was never challenged for having lied to Congress. He's not the only VA executive who testified before House Veterans Affairs who lacked candor. But in all cases this summer, apparently the worst consequences any of them faced was stern language from committee members.

TriWest has an exclusive, no-bid contract with the VA to duplicate bureaucratic services in (according to McIntyre's opening statement) 28 western states. The other states are covered by a contract with HealthNet.

The bottom line is that massive additional costs to taxpayers have and will continue to accrue as long as and to the extent that the VA is unable to cope with the increased demand. The economics of the situation indicate that David McIntyre along with whoever else holds an ownership interest in TriWest, will be making a killing off of the taxpayers. We just don't know to what extent because nobody has been able to press for disclosure.

At minimum, the VA and TriWest should be made to disclose the cost to taxpayers for this duplication of services. To clarify, I could have just as easily opened the phone book and found a doctor to go to for the specialty care. And I would not have charged an arm and a leg to do so.

Now, back to the Arizona Republic. A few months ago, when the scandal was still ramping up, I was in touch by email with Craig Harris, Dennis Wagner and Paul Giblin. They ultimately did express that they understood my concern but were, for whatever reason, unable or unwilling to explore this brazen bilking of taxpayers.

It's likely the choice was not theirs. Republic editorialists Robert Leger and Doug MacEachern wrote up a front page editorial declaring what they believe needs to be done to fix the situation(s) at the VA in Phoenix and beyond.
That is the approach recommended by Dr. Gail R. Wilensky, one of the nation's foremost authorities on reforming public-health systems. "Over time," she told us, the VA "should allow the private sector to take on veterans' other medical needs," while focusing on "those conditions that require complex interventions that are directly related to war injuries."
The economics of the situation point in the exact opposite direction to what the Republic believes should be done. That's likely behind the fact that Harris, Wagner and Giblin won't follow up and report on what the public needs to know about it all now that the scandal is winding down.


Now, today, newly confirmed VA Secretary Robert McDonald came to Phoenix. News media declared that he was here to hear from veterans. McDonald even said he was here to hear from the patients. But somebody isn't telling the truth.
"I'm really pleased to be here in Phoenix. It was important for me to come to Phoenix first to hear first-hand from our patients the veterans and the Veterans Affairs employees who are caring for them...
Upon hearing about this event, and because this has the potential to impact taxpayers for hundreds of millions of dollars, I contacted the VA by way of the patient advocate office and the director's office requesting to be invited to the meeting McDonald had with (as the director's office put it) stakeholders. An email response I received read,
Mr. Muratore, the Secretary is not meeting individually with Veterans today. The purpose of his visit to the Phoenix VA Health Care System is to impart his vision to employees and leadership and to see for himself the challenges Phoenix VA Health Care System faces in meeting that vision in order to better plan so the Veterans Health Adminstration can meet that vision. Rex Patterson Patient Advocate 
So, which is it, Mr. Secretary, did the local VAMC staff lie to you or did you lie to the cameras and reporters in the press conference?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dark Money operations like Glenn Hamer's and Cathi Herrod's are getting noticed!

What the heck did they expect would result from the 2010 Citizens United and 2014 McCutcheon rulings by SCOTUS? Did they really expect to face no resistance to their brazen efforts to cement their lock on American and Arizona government?

Well, damn it, Hamer and Herrod have had their season but WE have a HAMMER, and we SHALL overcome.

Yesterday, the Arizona Capitol Times reported that Herrod's Dark Money operation, aka Center for Arizona Policy, has engaged in politicking for some of her wholly owned candidates for legislative races where they face primary races against GOP candidates Herrod is less likely to be able to co-opt.
The Center for Arizona Policy, the powerful evangelical Christian organization that was the driving force behind this year’s religious discrimination bill, SB1062, is activating its own corporate “dark money” group to support and oppose candidates for public office.
...has spent more than $7,500 supporting legislative candidates. So far, the group has sent out mailers on behalf of three Republican candidates who are facing primary election challenges. Aaron Baer, a spokesman for both Center for Arizona Policy and Center for Arizona Policy Action, said that the group is putting forward “a modest effort to help candidates who have stood with us or will stand with us on our issues.” 
CAP has admitted to supporting John Kavanagh's bid for the LD23 Senate seat, Steve Smith's effort to get back into the Senate in LD11 and not yet elected to anything Shawna Bolick (wife of Goldwater Institute lawyer Clint Bolick) in the LD28 GOP House primary.

I have to expect that come September, Herrod will have her sights set on making vicious attacks in other key races. For example, Yarbrough, without one bit of financial support from grassroots in the district he represents has a serious challenger in Kristie O'Brien. If Kavanagh wins his primary, Herrod will likely attack Democrat Paula Pennypacker.

Herrod's key issues include destroying public education (she'll characterize it as "school choice") and furthering her Christian Dominionist agenda. That's where SB1062 came from back in January.

Today, the Arizona Republic ran an op-ed by Hamer bemoaning the fact that Dark Money has been stigmatized.
"Dark money" is the new political epithet, a scarlet letter attached to campaign efforts that express their First Amendment rights.
For all negative headlines and attention paid by the media, the good-government set and those who aren't benefiting from these efforts, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of supposed "dark money" campaign efforts are operating well within the tax and campaign-finance law.

Hamer misses important points, such as that exercise of the sacred "First Amendment rights" does NOT immunize anyone from criticism for the content of what is expressed.

Hamer goes on to say,
We're consistently criticized by the media for failing to fully exert ourselves in order to impact Arizona's body politic and refocus legislators and elected officials on our state's highest priorities. Yet, when the Arizona Business Coalition or other similar entities take action using the legal channels available to us, the dark-money denunciations come out like clockwork.
 Poor baby. Now he's the victim.

Hamer then suggests Dark Money is morally acceptable because it's legal and that special interests have been at it for hundreds of years.
Here's the truth: For as long as we've had elections in this country, campaign groups have sought to use every possible mechanism within the law to maximize fundraising and minimize public exposure for donors.
What he doesn't say is that if everything is peachy, and has been since the beginning of the country, why do those special interests put so much effort into buying influence in elections and with government officials? Could it be because the interests Hamer favors want something changed?

Well, the PEOPLE are now fighting back and the days of Dark Money are numbered.

We WILL Move to Amend and we will fight to ensure elected officials Represent.Us.

If Hamer really wanted to come clean, he'd shine a light on the political activities of his organization... like Gil Fulbright.

The Arizona We Want? LD23 candidate forum Monday evening

At the Scottsdale Public Library's Mustang Branch Monday evening, the Arizona We Want Institute held a forum, moderated by former ASU president Lattie Coor, for LD23 candidates to tell citizens how they intend to bring us closer to the Arizona We Want, especially on the subject of education. The candidates then fielded questions from the audience.

In the picture above, from Left to Right, Republican House candidate Jay Lawrence, a former radio talk show host; Republican House candidate Bob Littlefield, currently a member of the Scottsdale City Council; Democratic Senate candidate Paula Pennypacker, president of Just for Redheads International; and Republican Senate candidate Jeff Schwartz, a local real estate professional who is challenging state Rep. John Kavanagh in the LD23 GOP primary. Not pictured, Republican House candidate Effie Carlson and Kavanagh also were on the panel. Incumbent state Rep. Michelle Ugenti, running for re-election, did not bother to attend.

The highlight of the evening, in my view, was... well, there were a couple of them. Six candidates, only one of whom was a Democrat. That was Paula. Speaking confidently, Paula grabbed the audience's attention with her opening remarks.
I have been a citizen politician for over 30 years -- fighting for good government, protecting taxpayers, and weeding out waste and corruption in government.
I am running today to be your state senator because I believe that the voice of “we the people” has been missing from the debate.
After all, when did it become acceptable to make decisions that benefit just a few and not what is in the best interest for our children, our families and our neighborhoods?
If Republican lawmakers think our educational system is great -- then why are we last?
If they believe that our child and family protection services are great -- then why did they let happen what happened?
If they believe that cutting taxes for 24 of the las 25 years is great -- then where are the jobs? Where is the recovery? Where is the “trickle down?”
Let’s face it -- we need to stop the divisive partisan politics and start to work together so we can restore an effective working government at the Capitol and put Arizona back on track to being a leading state in the great nation.
Together we can make a difference -- I’m Paula Pennypacker and I would love to be your voice in the Arizona State Senate.
The fact of the matter is that in order to restore sanitytm it's going to take a break from the Republican party at the Arizona Capitol. This is one Senate seat that will make a HUGE difference and Paula is independent enough to make a strong and necessary stand against the Republican tyranny Arizona that has been locked in at the legislature for the last two decades. Paula is running as a traditionally funded candidate and needs your support.


Anyway, other highlights include that during audience Q & A, the issue of private prisons came up and Kavanagh had his standard rhetoric (private prisons save Arizona money) stuffed back in his face both by the audience (loud and clear) and in an unequivocal response from Bob Littlefield that Arizona should not be doing business with private prisons.

As gracious and easy to listen to as Jay Lawrence is, his main idea for restoring school funding is to consolidate school districts. Conceptually speaking, considering ONLY the matter of economies of scale, consolidation can make sense. But economies of scale are not even close to being the only consideration. Jay acknowledged that the idea has been considered and voted down by Arizona citizens before.

However, he thinks that if he's elected, he will be able to put schools districts on notice to come up with a plan for consolidation in 90 days and if they don't then the legislature will shove it down their throats. Now, he didn't use those words, but that was his meaning. Again, as nice a guy as he is, there's no mistaking where he stands politically. And it is NOT for the people having the say over what goes on either in the schools or at the legislature.

Because there are no Democratic candidates running for the House in LD23, I feel somewhat comfortable expressing my support for Bob Littlefield and Effie Carlson in the primary against Jay Lawrence and Michelle Ugenti. Ugenti has personal issues she's having to deal with and sort out, being in the middle of divorce litigation and having school age children. That and the fact that she's not highly respected even within her own caucus raise enough doubt about her that it's time for new blood, so to speak.

The other key issue that was communicated tonight, both by the two candidates and their opponents, is that John Kavanagh and Jay Lawrence represent INERTIA at the legislature. If they are elected, chances increase that nothing will improve as far as the tone of cooperation and public policy determination.

Carlson cited the social contract that is government and paying taxes to maintain civil society. I don't know enough about her to judge her sincerity or determination, but she understands important underlying principles necessary for someone to whom voters may decide to delegate their authority for lawmaking.

Littlefield has been on the Scottsdale City Council for three terms. Not everyone in Scottsdale loves him. Some people (I don't know who they are) have even put up political signs claiming the Littlefield is bad for Scottsdale. Bob, however, seems completely unfazed by things like that. He has a strong vision of being a pragmatic elected official and not being run by narrow, parochial, special interests... like the Tea Party.


During the forum, I received an email message with news that state Sen. Chester Crandell (R-LD6) died earlier in the day. It's tragic news for his family and for people who worked with him at the Capitol. He was respected as a gentleman by colleagues from both sides of the aisle.

However, coming as it did this close to the primary election, with early ballots already having been mailed out, Crandell's passing complicates matters. The Republican Party would name a replacement for the primary election if there was time to correct ballots, but there isn't. Watch for more news about the situation to get the technical specifics. He was running unopposed in the Republican primary and there is no Democratic Party candidate for that seat.

Former Republican state Sen. Tom O'Halleran is running as an independent and will be on the November ballot for the LD6 Senate seat. O'Halleran had a reputation, when he served in the legislature, of not necessarily toeing the party line. Crandell's passing has to increase O'Halleran's chances, but it's still not going to be easy for him because there will be an as yet undetermined Republican on the general election ballot.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dark Money gets darker? At least more persistent, in some Arizona races

Leading off, we have Trash Burner Bob Stump whining in the Arizona Capitol Times that his favored candidate for Corporation Commissioner, Doug Little has been treated unfairly by an advocacy group. Little, by the way, just happens to be one of the beneficiaries of a HUGE Dark Money purchase, likely funded by Arizona Public Service, of $254k for television ads targeting opponent Vernon Parker, from a group called Save Our Future NOW.
My friend, Barry Goldwater Jr., paid spokesman for TUSK (“Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed”), has spoken on the race for Arizona Corporation Commission, and his words are an incitement to hearty debate. I write in defense of the candidate I have endorsed, Doug Little, whose candidacy has elicited a degree of ferocity that is entirely disproportionate to his views — which are mainstream — and disrespectful of his values, which are stellar. [...]
It is too cute by half, and the irony makes the mind reel: Out-of-state solar company executives — fond of the president’s agenda, with business before the commission, and financially supportive of their preferred commission candidates — painting as an Obama supporter a conservative whose integrity, they claim, is in doubt because he is the beneficiary of alleged political spending from a utility with business before the Commission.
TUSK’s behavior speaks volumes. Little’s views and character would speak for themselves, if only TUSK would stop misrepresenting them.
Yes, the irony STUMP presents is striking indeed. Consistent with many of his Republican colleagues in Arizona, Trash Burner Bob obfuscates in a big way. How so?

Well, to obscure the fact that a regulated IN STATE monopoly (Arizona Public Service), which constantly has business before the Arizona Corporation Commission, of which Stump currently serves as chairman, he points to and criticizes alleged "out-of-state" solar company executives with meaningless drivel.

I mean really, what does "fond of the president's agenda" have to do with anything in the race for election to the ACC? It's nothing but misdirection, a shiny object. Doug Little's campaign signs, with his partner-in-crime (so to speak) Tom Forese proclaim Little's agenda being "fighting Obama." Whatever the hell that means.

By the way, those "out-of-state" solar company executives, if they have business before the ACC, are focused on IN-STATE business development and transactions. Otherwise, they wouldn't have "business before the commission."

When I first read Trash Burner Bob's latest screed, his conclusion struck me as incredibly peculiar.
Little’s views and character would speak for themselves, if only TUSK would stop misrepresenting them.
I attempted to comment on the Cap Times guest opinion piece but apparently did not pass muster with the moderator.

 In case you are unable to read it from the pic, here's what I said:
Seriously, Bob?
You're saying that TUSK has made it impossible for Doug Little to state his views or demonstrate his character?
Wouldn't your conclusion suggest less strength of character on Mr. Little's part than you seem to infer? [I probably should have said, "imply" rather than "infer."]
So, Trash Burner Bob Stump, crony capitalist extraordinaire, bitches, in a corporatist rag, but doesn't disclose that the in-state monopoly he is responsible for regulating brazenly attacks those Stump has not endorsed.


Also in the Dark Money category today, we have Sean Noble endorsed Mario Diaz and his Friends of Arizona IE group now having put up more than $3k worth of campaign signs for APS-owned senatorial candidate Catherine Miranda.

All I can say about that is that apparently Cathi Herrod and APS REALLY want Miranda elected in a big way. Obviously, because of protections Antonin Scalia and his gang gave to Dark Money operators, right now all I can do is speculate about possible sources of the money Mario Diaz and his Friends of Arizona, as well as Save Our Future NOW have for the mailings, signs and television spots being paid for lately. But...

The motives for APS and Save Our Future NOW are not so well hidden. Vernon Parker is a target because he supports solar energy. In 2013, Miranda voted for a bill to protect her benefactor, APS, from having to disclose environmental audit findings. As did Lydia Hernandez. Hernandez is now in a tight primary race for senate in another Phoenix legislative district, with Martin Quezada, currently each is an incumbent state Rep. in that LD(29).

Hernandez benefited from $4,078 expenditure by Save Our Future NOW just days ago for mailers. I'm confident that was quid pro quo for Hernandez vote, along with Miranda in 2013, to exempt APS from the environmental audit disclosures.

Miranda and Hernandez also support Herrod's agenda to deprive women of the autonomy over their own health decisions. Hernandez signed Herrod's pro-life pledge but was absent when the vote was taken on Herrod's latest bill to intimidate abortion clinics and providers. Miranda, however, voted in favor of Herrod's abortion bill and one of her private school voucher bills.

We shouldn't have to rehash the discussion about Dark Money operators buying votes on legislation every time the issue comes up, but it has, in fact, been shown very clearly through rigorous academic research that these big money donors have very clear expectations for a return on their investments in the political process.


By the way, former Attorney General Terry Goddard, currently a candidate for Secretary of State, has made Dark Money a key issue in his campaign. In an interview with the Arizona Republic, Goddard said,
"We must stop dark money. Period. Arizona voters have the right to know who is trying to buy our votes. As a Clean Elections candidate, I only take contributions when donors are clearly identified, but the sad fact is Arizona has become a major center for anonymous political funds. Millions of dark money dollars are flooding into our state and polluting elections here and across the country.
"As Secretary of State, I will fight to stop this deplorable practice:
"First, I will use my experience as Attorney General to uncover the names of the original contributors by every means available and will publicize any groups that conceal the actual source of their funds.
"Second, I will push in the Legislature for an effective anti-dark money law.
"Finally, if the Legislature keeps refusing to ban dark money, I will draft an initiative that does the job and lead the campaign to win Arizona voters' approval."
It is way past time to put a stop to Dark Money usurping the authority of and/or co-opting the Arizona voter.

Right now, for this month's primary election, that means we must support and elect Aaron Marquez instead of Miranda; Martin Quezada instead of Lydia Hernandez; and Ken Clark instead of Richard Bauer. And we must send Ruben Gallego to Congress instead of Mary Rose Wilcox. Conservative blogger Greg Patterson recently blogged about APS' connection to Wilcox, as documented nine years ago by investigative journalist John Dougherty. That's worth a read now.

We must persist until we succeed. The fate of a (small "d") democratic Arizona is at stake here and now.