The U.S. Supreme Court pulled a fast one earlier this week by ruling that matching funds would not be available for Arizona Clean Elections candidates who are using public dollars for their campaigns.
That's bad news for Clean Elections candidates. They will still get a set amount of money for their campaigns, but they won't get the additional dollars if their privately funded opponents exceed that spending cap.
That has big implications in a number of campaigns this year.
Republican Buz Mills is flooding the governor's race with his own dollars, having already spent more than $2 million. If matching funds had remained in place, Gov. Jan Brewer would have also had more than $2 million for her campaign.
But with matching funds evidently on the way out, she'll have to settle for just $707,447. (As will fellow Republican Dean Martin, if and when he qualifies for Clean Elections.)
In Brewer's case, it might not matter; she has the advantage of incumbency, which has given her a big lead in recent polls.
But the decision could upend some other key races. In the GOP primary for Arizona attorney general, for example, former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas is using Clean Elections, while State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne is privately financed. That means Thomas is limited to $183,311, which doesn't go that far when you're buying TV ads in both the Phoenix and Tucson markets and sending out mailers to GOP voters.
Meanwhile, Horne can spend as much as he raises—and, as of the end of last year, he'd already raised $213,000. That will give Horne a chance to pummel Thomas, who will have limited ability to fight back.
The guy who might be the most embarrassed by the latest matching-funds decision is Republican John Munger, who dropped out of the governor's race last week, because the U.S. Supreme Court had earlier ruled that matching funds would be available, although they left the door open for an appeal. That's some premature evacuation, John.
Munger said the availability of matching funds "presents an insurmountable obstacle to my campaign for governor. As I have previously stated publicly and in legal filings, these dollar-for-dollar taxpayer matching funds create an unequal playing field by discouraging financial contributions to traditionally funded candidates."
But given Munger's inability to capture the hearts and souls of GOP primary voters (polls from both the right and the left had him at less than 5 percent), his complaints about Clean Elections kinda sounded like a lame excuse to get out of the race without embarrassing himself.
The Republicans who want to unseat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Congressional District 8 may disagree about the how much good the National Guard will do on the border. (See "The Guard Card," Page 15.) But most of them agree that the estimated 11 million or so people who are now in United States without proper documentation should be sent back to their own countries rather than allowed to pay a fine and remain in the United States.
Many earlier efforts at comprehensive immigration reform—even those sponsored by U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl—included provisions that allowed people who were in the country without proper paperwork to pay a fine, undergo a background check and stay.
The idea was to offer a carrot to bring people out of the shadows; after all, attempting to round up and deport millions of people tends to be an expensive and disruptive proposition.
In our last conversation with her, Giffords told us that she still supports allowing undocumented workers to pay a fine and remain in the country. She would even support allowing them to be put on a path to citizenship.
But most of her potential GOP opponents say that anyone who is in the country without documentation needs to be sent back to their home country, and go to the back the line, even if it takes years for them to return to the United States.
Former state Sen. Jonathan Paton says local law enforcement should join federal authorities to apprehend undocumented workers.
"What you're probably going to see is a lot of states are going to adopt laws like 1070 that will say that local law enforcement will get involved in making sure that people are not here illegally," Paton says.
Jesse Kelly also wants undocumented workers booted from the United States.
"You must go the back of the line, and that's a simple fairness issue," Kelly says. "There are people waiting in line all over the world to come here the right way."
Kelly says there's "no question" that the country needs to adjust its immigration policies to allow more immigrants to enter the country legally, but like Paton, he says that conversations about that matter shouldn't begin until the border is secured.
Brian Miller also says that undocumented workers should be forced to return to their home countries, but he wants to address immigration policy much sooner than Paton or Kelly.
"We must have a market-based legal-immigration system," Miller says. "That would include a temporary-worker program."
Andy Goss agrees that undocumented workers should have to leave the U.S.
"While I realize that it is unreasonable to probably round up every single one of them and deport them, that doesn't mean that we stop doing our job," Goss says. If the government cracks down hard enough on employers who hire illegal immigrants, then "probably a lot of these people would self-deport, because they couldn't get work," he adds.
Goss says that state lawmakers should expand state law to allow ranchers and others in the area to raise a self-defense argument that would shield them if they shoot people crossing their property.
"They need to be able to protect their land and their livestock as well as their automobile," Goss says. "If they say 'boo' loud enough to someone who is on their property illegally, they get sued. And this is simply not right."
Jay Quick is the only Republican in the race to say that the federal government should allow people in the country to come forward and normalize their status.
"I don't think a fine is necessary," Quick says. "They work for slave wages anyway, and we all take advantage of it."
William Wallace, a Democrat running for a House seat in Legislative District 26, may soon find himself fighting to remain on the ballot.
We hear that Wallace's petitions have been pulled for review. That's the first step toward a formal challenge, which must be filed by June 10. If there's a problem with his signatures, Wallace would be tossed from the ballot.
Wallace and incumbent Rep. Nancy Young Wright are the two Democrats seeking the two House seats in LD26, a swing district that ranges from the Catalina Foothills into Pinal County's SaddleBrooke.
Democrats would be happy if Wright was the only Democrat on the ballot, because they believe it increases her chances of hanging on to the seat in what's sure to be a tough race.
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