Winner and losers from last week's election
From what The Skinny knows as of our Monday deadline, about 21,000 provisional ballots in Pima County remained to be sorted through from last week's election. In past years, about 80 percent of those have turned out to be valid votes, but it takes some time to sort through them, so the count isn't likely to be completed until the time our Thursday edition hits the street, with the Board of Supervisors scheduled to approve the canvass on Monday, Nov. 21.
That said, the vast majority of the more than 397,000 ballots cast in Pima County have been counted and we can poke around the numbers to draw a few conclusions.
Among the biggest winners:
• U.S. Rep. Martha McSally may have squeaked by in 2014 by a mere 167 votes, but this year, she solidified her position in Congressional District 2 by beating former state lawmaker Matt Heinz with 57 percent of the vote, or more than 40,000 votes.
This was no surprise. As a military veteran, McSally fits the district well and has worked hard on issues like saving the A-10, blocking plans to close the Cherrybell postal-sorting center and generally keeping up a high profile in the district. McSally has also been a very cautious politician rather than an ideological bomb-thrower.
On Election Night, before the returns started rolling in, McSally was talking about being one of the few members of Congress who managed to get anything passed in the last few years, even if it was generally uncontroversial legislation giving veterans a leg up in the Border Patrol hiring process or allowing WWII female pilots to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
But with Republicans now in control of both houses of Congress and the White House, McSally will have to make some tough decisions: Is she going to support House Speaker Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare? Will there be a replacement of Obamacare or just a repeal? Will people with pre-existing conditions go back to being unable to buy health insurance? Will she continue to vote in favor of banning Planned Parenthood from receiving federal healthcare dollars now that the GOP could make that a reality?
At this point, these are all questions without answers, as Republicans are still scrambling to figure out just how they are going to recreate America over the next four years.
• Low-income workers are getting a raise with the passage of Prop 206, which will boost the minimum wage to $10 an hour next year and $12 an hour in 2020. It's one bright spot in a state where a Republican governor and Legislature are working to shift the tax burden from wealthy to poor.
• Democrat Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson fended off a challenge from Republican Kim DeMarco, who was backed by a well-funded independent campaign tied to car dealer Jim Click and countered by a pro-Bronson independent campaign funded by legendary land speculator Don Diamond. Bronson's win leaves Democrats firmly in control of Pima County and allows Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry to continue working on the economic-development efforts he's been building.
"Pima County had some good news," Bronson said after the election. "We will stay the economic-development course and I look forward to working with (Republican Supervisor-elect) Steve Christy so we can build bridges, both literally and figuratively."
• Republican Todd Clodfelter, after making two previous attempts to win a House of Representatives seat in Tucson's Legislative District 10, finally appears to have triumphed. Clodfelter was leading incumbent Rep. Stefanie Mach by 569 votes as of our deadline. (Political newcomer and Democrat Kirsten Engel was leading both candidates for the other seat in the district.) Clodfelter's previous runs helped him build up some name ID and being the only GOP candidate let him run a successful "single-shot" campaign. This is the third election cycle in a row where a Republican candidate managed to win a House seat in a Democratic district; in 2012, it was Ethan Orr, who lasted just one term; in 2014, it was Chris Ackerley, who lasted just one term;
• Republican Mark Napier overcame a countywide registration disadvantage to unseat Sheriff Chris Nanos, who was appointed to the gig last year and found himself scrambling to handle a volatile mix of scandals and unhappy deputies.
• Sen. John McCain ended up with a 13-percentage-point win over Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, giving Arizona's senior senator six more years in D.C. Now we'll see whether how President-elect Donald Trump deals with McCain and whether McCain continues to fall in line with the new administration or whether he spends what is likely a final term rediscovering his maverick ways.
• Democrat Tom O'Halleran easily knocked down Republican Paul Babeu in Congressional District 1,but will be serving as a member of the minority party. Something tells us O'Halleran's ethics plan will be out of place when Trump assumes the presidency with both houses of Congress behind him.
• TUSD Board members Mark Stegeman and Kristel Foster are both headed back to new terms, meaning their obvious hatred for each other will continue to play out in public for the next four years. But Cam Juarez was unseated by political newcomer Rachael Sedgwick, who managed to avoid being targeted or supported by the various independent expenditure efforts campaigning on behalf of different candidates.
Among the biggest losers:
• Pima County Supervisor and Queen Nut Ally Miller: Miller won reelection, but her grand plan to seize control of the Board of Supervisors went down with Bronson's win over DeMarco. Miller will once again spend the next four years making up conspiracy theories, undermining economic-development initiatives, terrorizing anyone unlucky to work on her staff and searching for bugs in her office.
• Pot smokers: With Prop 205 going down in defeat, it will likely be at least four years before opponents of prohibition come back with another effort to decriminalize the use of marijuana. While efforts to allow weed for medical or recreational use passed in half a dozen states last week, Arizona bucked the trend by rejecting Prop 205 by roughly 3 percentage points. Credit a well-funded and aggressive opposition campaign in Arizona, along with those potheads who believed it was a better strategy to keep dope completely illegal (unless you have a med card) rather than lift the threat of a felony conviction.
• Democrats at the Arizona Legislature: On Election Night, a jubilant state Sen. Steve Farley announced that Democrats were headed to 15-15 tie with Republicans in the Arizona Senate. But Farley's chickens didn't all hatch; as of The Skinny's deadline, Republicans were hanging onto 17 seats in the state Senate and (with Mach's loss here in Tucson) had only picked up one seat in the House of Representatives, so Republicans continue to hold control of the statehouse.