2010 General Election Recommendations
It looks like a particularly dispiriting election next month, so forgive me if these recommendations have a somewhat nihilistic air. I’ve had it with people who think photo radar cameras are an outrage to privacy, but asking suspicious-looking Hispanics for their papers answers a moral imperative. I’ve had more than enough of people who oppose socialized medicine because they already have their Medicare. And don’t get me started on people who are upset about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that President Obama supposedly started. As Mencken said, the American people want democracy, and they deserve it -- good and hard. And apparently, that’s what we’ll get.
The only saving grace is that the last of our kids finished with Arizona public schools this year, everybody is healthy, and we actually read economic statistics and know that we’re in the top 1-2% of the US income distribution. Private universities outside the state aren’t dependent on the forethought and wisdom of the Arizona legislature, thankfully and blessedly none of us is under treatment for either chronic or behavioral health issues, we hope to sell our house before global warming makes Arizona as climatologically inhospitable as it is politically, and it’s a fabulous time to be rich in America because nobody pays for what they get, and you're encouraged to whine about what you do pay.
I got a call from a voter, with Medicare coverage for full disability, who opposes health care reform; she got hers, nobody else needs apply. She wants to vote for Prop. 107 because (and this is the only reason she could give) she’s upset that when she shops at J.C. Penney at MetroCenter, they don’t stock what she wants to buy, they’re aiming for a different (read: Hispanic) consumer. Yes, we should abolish affirmative action so she isn’t uncomfortable when clothes shopping. I would have suggested she move back to Ohio -- but then she probably moved to Arizona in the first place because Ohio became too diverse racially for her.
So vote. It may be like pissing in the wind, but boy, does my bladder (and spleen) feel full. To the recommendations:
You don’t need to read me for the big offices, like Congress and the statewide races. The campaigns with which I’ve worked most closely this cycle are Rodney Glassman for US Senate; for the US House, Harry Mitchell in CD-5, Gabrielle Giffords in CD-8, and Jon Hulburd in CD-3; statewide, Terry Goddard for Governor and Felecia Rotellini for Attorney General.
For Corporation Commission, single-shot David Bradley following Jorge Luis Garcia’s death, and hope that Commissioners Kennedy and Newman elect him chair.
Key legislative race: In LD-11 House, single-shot Dr. Eric Meyer, don’t vote for either of the Republicans. For LD-11 Senate, I like Adam Driggs personally, and I really like and respect his father, but Driggs knew he should vote against SB 1070 but couldn’t do the right thing for fear he would lose his primary. He was probably correct on the politics, but you should vote for Rita Dickenson because some things are more important than winning a primary.
Maricopa County Attorney: Go ahead, vote for Kielsky, the libertarian, or write in David Lujan.
Scottsdale School Board: A very surprising election, with very little information or community concern; even the Scottsdale Education Association hasn’t made an endorsement. I’m told Dieter Schaefer carefully weighs his decisions and isn’t a knee-jerker, and Pam Kirby is basically unknown, but seems to have a district-wide perspective. I tend to stay away from candidates who tout their limited geographic interests; I may live in the southern end of the district, but that’s a loser’s game for us, in the long run we’re better off with a board which has the whole district in mind, but you may feel differently about Denny Brown’s approach than I do. So Schaefer and Kirby and hope for the best. Again, I’m hugely glad my kids have graduated already; it’s not a good time to serve on an Arizona school board, so whomever wins, they have my sympathy. Also: vote yes on the SUSD bonds. UPDATE: The SEA finally issued an endorsement, for Schaefer and Brown, which would have changed my opinion, but I've already voted. UPDATE 2: Or maybe not, my trusted guru on all things SUSD is sticking with Schaefer and Kirby, so my ballot might have been completed correctly after all.
Ballot propositions: You would not be doing a bad thing -- indeed, you’d be doing a considerably correct thing -- by voting “NO” on all ten. All but one came from the legislature, so voting yes means encouraging them and thus getting more of the same. The only possible “yes” votes would be for Prop. 110, on State Trust Lands, which is endorsed by key people on all sides of that issue, and Prop. 112, which tweaks the rules for submission of ballot initiatives to make election administration better, but both of those are weak “good government” tea, and not huge problems if they fail.
You also could make an argument for Prop. 111, which creates a lieutenant governor position, and for Prop. 203, medical marijuana, but I’m voting no on both -- although it’s a closer call on 203.
For 111, I found the campaign in favor to be juvenile and puerile, and there are substantive problems in that the Gov and Lt. Gov candidates run separately, in partisan primaries, so there’s no guarantee (and it’s actually unlikely) that the LG would allow continuation of the Gov’s policies. This proposition reminds me of the 1988 change to the state constitution to require a majority to elect a governor, which was passed in hopes of preventing a repeat of the Ev Mecham 3-way plurality election, but which then forced a pointless repeat runoff between Terry Goddard and Fife Symington because of a 3% spoiler third-party candidate. So vote no.
Some people I respect also support Prop. 203, Medical Marijuana, which is better drafted than the California version on their ballot, for what that’s worth. I’m just not seeing it, and I’m voting no, but your mileage may vary.
So just vote no on the propositions -- especially on 302 (putting First Things First money into the Legislature’s hands, are you kidding?) and 301 (same for the Land Conservation Fund, don’t be ridiculous!) as well as 106 (health care -- I have my Medicare, so you should be left to the tender mercies of the insurance companies!), 107 (clothes for white people at Penney’s!), 109 (hunting and fishing trump everything else!), 113 (beat up on the unions even more!), and 111 (no lieutenant governor until the people of Arizona prove they can be trusted electing a governor!) Vote yes, maybe, on 110 (state trust land reform) and 112 (initiative petition clean-up). Flip a coin on 203 (medical marijuana) but I’m voting no.
Judges: No real clunkers in this year’s group; some are obviously better than others, but nobody strikes me as below the standard for retention. If you’re are pressed for time and want to highlight only the top judges, then make sure you take the time to vote for the following:
Court of Appeals: Dan Barker, Pat Irvine
Superior Court: Peter Reinstein, Randall Warner, Sally Schneider, Dawn Bergin, William Brotherton, Gary Donahoe, Bethany Hicks, Douglas Reyes, Samuel Thumma, Jean Hoag, Roger Broadman
That’s 13 judges out of the horde, for whom you should take the time to vote yes.
Central Arizona Project: The toughest thing on the ballot for me this year. The CAP, as you may have heard, is in the middle of a fight where right-wing Republicans are trying to take over the Board. If they elect 4 or 5 (not clear) more, they will have a majority and can bring the full weight of their ideology to bear on the CAP. This possibility has gotten much of the downtown business community, and the local excuse for a newspaper, upset, because ‘wingers tend to micromanage government and have a very short-term, dollars-only attitude toward vital public services. This strikes those groups as very dangerous when it comes to water, but perfectly acceptable when it comes to the US Congress or the legislature.
People I respect, like Grady Gammage, a former member of the CAP Board, see a 'winger takeover as a huge threat to the state. And a number of good people are running, including former Phoenix city manager Frank Fairbanks, who is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. But why wouldn’t the CAP Board be the place to demonstrate whether this low-tax-and-no-spend theory of government actually could work? Why is water sacred, but public education, public health, and behavioral health are perfectly acceptable playgrounds for ideological tax-cutting fervor? If the newspaper’s editorial board wants us to send small-minded bean counters to Washington to govern the entire country, why is staff expertise and light oversight so important when it comes to mere water? It would make much more sense to experiment with ‘winger control on a limited, but important, board than to experiment with the entire state, as would be the result of voting for Jan Brewer for governor.
So I probably should do the right thing, and vote for Frank Fairbanks as well as Arif Kazmi, whom I’ve met at a number of campaign stops this fall, as well as the other “traditional” candidates (Tim Bray, Sid Wilson, and Jim Holway). But I am sorely tempted to vote for Kazmi and the four-member ‘winger slate, to give the downtown business community a good, hard taste of their own medicine. They support this stuff, they should have to live with it. If you’re similarly inclined to heighten the contradictions, the four wackos running for CAP are Bundy, Johnson, Moulton, and Rosado. Mark Lewis isn’t part of the group, but for some reason they find him simpatico. Your call, I still don’t know what I’m going to do. UPDATE: I voted only for Fairbanks and Kazmi.
Thus sayeth your oracle. Go vote, and hope for the best. If you see things otherwise, comments are welcome, I'll try to check and post them daily.