Andy and I have been asked for recommendations on the 4-page 2006 Arizona general election ballot, so here are our recommendations on candidates, propositions, and judicial retentions:
Candidates: If you read these emails, it should be no surprise to that we’re voting for, and telling you to vote for, Janet Napolitano for Governor, Jim Pederson for U.S. Senate, and (where we can) for Harry Mitchell in District 5, Gabrielle Giffords in District 8, and Herb Paine in District 3, all red-to-blue congressional races. Basically, our default advice in Arizona is, vote for the Democrat, except for these extra-special decent Republicans:
Corporation Commission: You get to vote for two; vote for Kris Mayes (incumbent), then of the two D’s running, vote for Mark Manoil.
State Senate, District 8: If you need to show nonpartisan cred, that “vote for the person and not the party” crap (like the Arizona Legislature ever evaluates ideas based on their value and not on their party provenance -- NOT) vote to re-elect Carolyn Allen.
In LD 11, the only Democrat running is Mark DeSimone; if you don’t want just to single-shot him, between the two Republicans, vote for Adam Driggs.
Special shout-outs to people especially doing the Lord’s work and running against truly annoying Republicans (this is for people in a hurry who can’t be bothered voting for every office, but if you can’t fill out an entire ballot what are you doing reading this email?):
Governor: Janet Napolitano
Secretary of State: Israel Torres
Attorney General: Terry Goddard
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Jason Williams
U.S. Senate: Jim Pederson
U.S. Congress, District 3: Herb Paine
U.S. Congress, District 5: Harry Mitchell
U.S. Congress, District 8: Gabrielle Giffords
State Senate, District 11: Ann Wallack
Special obscure Central Arizona Water Conservation District recommendations bonus! You get to vote for five; we recommend, in this order:
George Brooks, Jr.
All are incumbents. Under no circumstances whatsoever should any reasonable person vote for Burns, McGrath, or Pickard. If you have a problem with any of our 5 recommendations, you could cast a sympathy vote for Ed King. He’s not the brightest candle in the chandelier, but as a county supervisor in 1994 he really got screwed by voting for the baseball stadium tax, then lost the next primary to Jan Brewer who ran on an anti-tax platform -- but who then had no problem attending the opening of the stadium and has her name on a plaque at the entrance. She’s such a hypocrite that I’ve always harbored better feelings for King than he actually deserves.
Propositions: Amaze your friends by being able to tell these apart!
Prop. 100, No bail for illegal aliens: NO. If you’re a flight risk, you’re not supposed to get bail. So this proposition would make judges deny bail to people they determine aren’t a flight risk, but we’d have to keep them locked up anyway. This wacko idea is supported by people who rail against unnecessary government spending, like this proposition. Go figure.
Prop. 101, Local property tax limitations: NO. This proposition punishes districts and municipalities that don’t use all of their taxing authority in a particular year; the 2% limit now in the state constitution would be based on actual taxes assessed, rather than full authority if less was assessed. It hamstrings municipalities and punishes them for doing well in good years.
Prop. 102, No punitive damages for illegal aliens: NO. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer, not to reward the victim. This proposition tells tortfeasors, choose your victims wisely and save money! Vote no.
Prop. 103, English as official language: NO. It’s not needed and counterproductive. You could even call it “estúpido.”
Prop. 104, Municipal debt limits: YES. This proposition would allow public safety and streets to have the higher debt limit currently allowed for water, sewer, and land acquisitions. Public safety should be in the higher category. Basically corrects a typo in the state constitution.
Prop. 105, State trust lands: NO.
Prop. 106, State trust lands: YES.
Short explanation: The people supporting 105 are the cattle ranchers and the Central Arizona homebuilders; everybody else supports 106. If you think the ranchers and the homebuilders actually care about education or conservation, you need a brain transplant.
Longer explanation (Disclosure: Andy is on the Prop. 106 committee and our firm has represented organizations supporting 106), courtesy of Grady Gammage:
Vote yes on 106 and no on 105. 105 is largely meaningless, put on the ballot to confuse the voters. It's not harmful, but if we're going to open up the state constitution, it isn't worth the trouble. All the negatives you hear on 106 are false: it helps, not hurts education funding (so the AZ Education Association is for it); it preserves way more land (so Nature Conservancy, Sonoran Institute, and other conservation groups support it); makes the process for developing state land more rational (thus Valley Partnership and Greater Phoenix Leadership support it); and it works better for cities and towns (so the AZ Planning Association supports it). The opposition is really only three sources: cattlemen, who want cheap grazing leases forever; the Central AZ Homebuilders (who've lost their minds and broke with the rest of the real estate community for reasons no one can figure out--even the Southern AZ Homebuilders support it); and Grady’s former partner Becky Burnham, who has a convoluted rationale for not liking it that basically amounts to she didn't write every word of it, so it can't be any good.
Prop. 107, Gay Marriage and Domestic Partner Benefits Ban: NO. (Also a client of CGSON.) Sure, take away health insurance and employment benefits from all sorts of people, gay and straight, because it might help turn out right-wing voters. Vote no and give money to the Vote No campaign, too. If your marriage is threatened by other people's domestic arrangements, the problem is with you and not other people.
Prop. 200, Voter Reward Act: PICK ‘EM. We’re split on this one. Andy says no, it’s a cheap and tawdry gimmick. Sam says that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s an annoying Mark Osterloh idea -- not the idea, Mark is annoying -- that would give a free lottery ticket to every voter. Might drive up turnout, and people who write editorials for the Arizona Republic shouldn’t get too huffy about the supposed lack of intellectual content in Osterloh’s ideas.
Prop. 201, Smoking Ban: YES. (A client.) This is the real ban, not that fake 206 one, and it’s supported by the Arizona Restaurant Association, which sees the exemption for bars in 206 as a way for bigger businesses to crush the mom-and-pops. Just as you shouldn’t listen to the cattlemen on conservation, we’re not sure the tobacco companies are the best source of wisdom on smoking bans.
Prop. 202, State Minimum Wage: YES. (Again, a client.) When stupid right-wing editorials are outsourced to Bangalore, then you can start listening to them about what kind of wages those at the very bottom of the ladder are entitled to. Until then, vote yes.
Prop. 203, Early Childhood Tobacco Tax: YES. We’re not sure about the funding source’s long-term viability, and it would be nicer if these programs were funded directly by the state general fund, but Arizona has about the same chance of spending too much money on early childhood programs as I do of pitching in the MLB All-Star Game, so vote yes.
Prop. 204, Factory Farming Ban: YES. Is hogwash a good thing, or a bad thing? I prefer my hogs washed. Vote yes.
Prop. 205, Mail Balloting: UPDATE: Old recommendation: NO. It could depress turnout in minority and reservation communities where vote-by-mail has always been a very tough sell and low-percentage option, so vote no. NEW RECOMMENDATION:
YES. I've rethought my position on this one. It's basically a choice between two groups of voters who simply don't turn out enough: minorities, especially Native Americans, in the general election, and GOP moderates in the primaries. GOP moderates, of whom there are about 9 left in Arizona, have tried just about everything to increase turnout in GOP primaries, to little avail, so the next step is to put a ballot into everybody's mailbox in these upscale suburban districts because we just can't trust them to apply for one over the Internet, by phone, by mail, or through a campaign. (But heaven forefend we increase turnout by giving them a lottery ticket--that would diminish the democratic experiment, as opposed to giving in to their laziness.) I would ordinarily call this one a draw, but what's sealed it for me is the constellation of groups supporting and opposing 205. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Secretary of State Jan Brewer, and the Arizona Republican Party are opposed; the Arizona Democratic Party supports. The Arizona Republic endorsed it Monday, but I'm willing to overlook that. It's increased turnout in Washington and Oregon--but by about 6 percent, which is less than what was predicted, so you may want to take predictions of doubling of turnout in primaries with a grain of salt, but it's still an increase and couldn't hurt. So I voted yes, but this is absolutely the last thing we're going to do for GOP moderates, who always look so pitiful because they never, ever stand their ground. Guess what, GOP moderates--the "real" Republicans don't respect you in the morning, either.
Prop. 206, Smoking Ban: NO. (As noted, we’re representing the competing initiative, 201.) This is a smoking ban supported by RJR Reynolds to compete with the real ban, Prop. 201. Like the tobacco companies would have the right idea about a smoking ban. If you buy that, second-hand smoke is the least of your issues.
Prop. 207, Municipal Condemnation: NO. An extreme, expensive, and dangerous solution to a non-existent problem. More commentary from Grady:
207 isn't about cities condemning your house to sell to developers -- that's already largely prohibited in AZ. It's about a libertarian New York real estate developer who doesn't believe in zoning and thinks there should be compensation for all land use regulation. If it passes, land use lawyers make tons of money under it, because it's so badly designed. But it stinks as public policy. Regulation of development is necessary in a place that grows as much as Arizona, and we don't have a history of overregulation. And on this one, even Ms. Burnham agrees.
Prop. 300, Education Benefits for Illegal Aliens: NO. Haven’t these people ever heard of “human capital”? Hugely counterproductive for Arizona as a state, but it might be in the political interests of certain incumbents at the Legislature to keep as many people as possible as uneducated as possible. After all, they need to make sure the base is replenished.
Prop. 301, Methamphetamine Penalties: NO. This may be a good idea but drug penalties are so over-the-top generally that having one too low is a novelty.
Prop. 302, Legislative Salaries: YES. On the merits, we get what we pay for. This proposition has less chance of passing than my All-Star Game appearance.
Scottsdale Unified School District Override: YES. I still have one kid left in the SUSD, and even if he’d graduated, I owe it to future kids to support the schools that educated our kids.
Judicial Retention: Go ahead and vote YES to retain everybody. If you’re running out of time to fill out your ballot, make sure you vote to retain both Supreme Court judges (Andrew Hurwitz and Ruth McGregor) and all three Court of Appeals judges (Donn Kessler, Patricia Norris, and Maurice Portley), and Superior Court judges Sally Schneider Duncan and Peter Reinstein (both Temple Solel members deserve judicial retention automatically). If you’re really, really determined to find one judge to vote against just to show you're paying attention or something (like anybody will know), we have a recommendation about the least-qualified "yes" vote that we can send you in an email off-list.
Hope this helps. Arguments welcome.
UPDATE: Don't bother reading the comments, it's nothing but pro-207 spam so far.