Monday, April 4, 2022

The Daily Agenda: Candidates Hit Their First Deadline

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2022 at 9:32 AM

It's comeback season for politicians ... It's lawsuit season for bills ... And Gosar sees the light?

Editor's note: The Arizona Agenda is a Substack newsletter about Arizona government and politics run by Rachel Leingang and Hank Stephenson. You can find their archives and subscribe at
click to enlarge Ken Bennett, last seen in a complicated relationship with the Cyber Ninjas, is among a crew of former lawmakers hoping to make a comeback in this year's elections.
Ken Bennett, last seen in a complicated relationship with the Cyber Ninjas, is among a crew of former lawmakers hoping to make a comeback in this year's elections.

Today is the deadline for candidates to file nominating petitions to qualify for the ballot. And while some are still struggling to gather signatures and ultimately won’t make it, a host of former politicians and interesting newcomers have already qualified to run for office in 2022. 

Let’s focus on the Legislature, where more than a dozen former politicians hope to make their triumphant return to public office. Many of those hoping to return to the $24,000 per year salary had rocky runs as elected officials or have hit hard times since.

Take, for instance, Legislative District 1, where former Republican Rep. Noel Campbell is seeking a comeback as a state Senator. After leaving office, Campbell’s wife accused him of domestic violence and said she believes he’s in the beginning stages of dementia. He’ll face Yavapai County Republican Steve Zipperman and, perhaps, former Senate President Ken Bennett a once respected voice in state policy who was last spotted in an off-again, on-again relationship with the Cyber Ninjas. 

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Anthony Kern, a Brady List cop who was last spotted on the front steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is running unopposed in the GOP primary for the state Senate in LD27 after Republican Sen. Paul Boyer decided to not seek reelection. There are many other scandal-plagued or otherwise memorable former politicians trying to get back in the spotlight:

  • David Farnsworth, the Republican former lawmaker who got so deep into QAnon theory that he called the cops on fellow former lawmaker Kate Brophy McGee after he claimed that she made a veiled threat on his life because he was investigating the link between children missing from the Department of Child Safety’s custody and sex trafficking, will face off against House Speaker Rusty Bowers in the LD10 Senate GOP primary. 

  • Catherine Miranda, whose family has such a long and storied history in Arizona politics that we couldn’t possibly recount all the anecdotes here, wants to come back. She was accused of signature fraud in 2012, though the Attorney General’s Office closed its investigation after the death of her husband, Democratic lawmaker Ben Miranda, saying he had become the primary focus of the investigation. Her brother-in-law, former Democratic lawmaker Richard Miranda, went to prison for something totally unrelated. And at one point, her daughter-in-law ran against her for the state Senate. 

  • Steve Montenegro, a former lawmaker and youth pastor who flat-out lied after being caught carrying out an online affair with an entry-level Capitol staffer while he was a state senator, also hopes to return to the Legislature. 

The fields aren’t totally set yet, as candidates hit the pavement over the weekend to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. A handful of statewide candidates are still struggling — Democratic Rep. and attorney general candidate Diego Rodriguez, for example, suspended his campaign on Friday, after apparently coming up short on signatures, and several candidates for the Mine Inspector’s Office were still drumming up signatures at the last minute. (Keep in mind we’re writing based on filings Sunday evening, so we fully expect a few more candidates to qualify by close of business Monday.) 

But at the Capitol, all eyes are on the handful of “highly competitive” districts that will determine whether Republicans (probably) or Democrats (not likely) will control the state House and Senate. We’re still waiting on a few late entrants in those races as we expect some more filings today.

Of course, qualifying for the ballot is just the first step. After candidates file signatures today, the challenge period begins. Candidates and their proxies will start taking each other to court to try to disqualify enough signatures to knock each other off the ballot. Only after the challenge period will we really know who will appear on the August primary election ballots. 

With all these former politicians returning to power, Arizona needs reporters who know their backstories. And we need money to stay in business. Subscribe now to make sure we’re around to keep an eye on them.

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The fallout keeps falling out: In the days since Gov. Doug Ducey signed four bills that restrict abortion, transgender kids and voting rights, the bills have made national headlines and inspired multiple lawsuits. Two lawsuits are challenging the voting lawthat restricts federal-only voters. Some people want the Super Bowl to move from Arizona in 2023. Ducey wouldn’t say whether trans people were real, then got madabout the question that he didn’t answer in the first place. The federal government warned the states that gender-affirming care laws could run afoul of federal law, and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he’d see the Biden Administration in court. Meanwhile, a trans girl shared how the law banning her from playing sports with girls will affect her life.​

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The end of an era: Pima County’s most powerful man will resign from his job this week. Longtime Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is stepping down more than five months after he suffered several serious injuries when he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle in Tucson. In a statement from his attorney, Huckelberry said he still has months of therapy ahead and couldn’t do the job justice as he works to improve his health, the Arizona Daily Star’s Nicole Ludden reports. 

Everything’s bigger in Texas: A measure referred to the 2022 ballot by legislative Republicans would add requirements to early ballots, like putting birth dates and ID numbers in addition to signatures. And we don’t need to look too far to see how that could go: In Texas, a similar law led to a massive increase in the number of rejected ballots, the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda reports. 

Suddenly concerned about public health: Title 42, a public health law that expels migrants at the border, will be lifted on May 23, and border officials expect to see tons more migrants coming through the U.S.-Mexico border. The Republic’s Clara Migoya and Rafael Carranza detail what the change could mean for Arizona, and what elected officials are saying. And Ducey, for his part, called on the federal government to keep Title 42 in place. 

Medical Marijuana Act prevails: Medical marijuana use during pregnancy does not qualify as child neglect, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled after a former Department of Child Safety employee was placed on a registry of people who have abused or neglected children, the Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzl writes.

A fall from grace: Brnovich is using his office to boost his U.S. Senate campaign, and he’s not defending state election laws, like early voting or the PC snafu, to the extent that he should because he’s under fire to buy into Trump’s election fantasies, conservative Republic columnist Robert Robb writes.

Everything will literally be on fire: It was nice that it rained a lot last year, but now there’s more vegetation that can get lit on fire this summer, so our wildfire season could be a bad one, the governor said at his annual wildfire briefing last week. And it’s unfortunately happening at a time when it’s hard to recruit new firefighters. 

How long can this continue?: CNBC highlights surging home prices in, you guessed it, Phoenix. Prices went up nearly 33% year over year in Phoenix, far higher than the 19% seen nationally. Meanwhile, the City of Phoenix started a program to help food farmers keep their land and continue producing local food, the Republic’s Priscilla Totiyapungprasert reports. Farmers, many of whom are renters, have been priced out and supplanted by urban development at an increasing rate.

Gonna need more water: More than half of the wells from the largest water supplier to Pine-Strawberry dried up as development threatens the community’s access to water, 12News’ Hunter Bassler reports. U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly’s office is trying to help, but community members disagree on how to move forward. In Tucson, a program started in 2010 to incentivize residents to use gray water for landscaping has few users and even fewer who get a rebate for it, the Arizona Daily Star’s Sam Kmack reports. 

The weirder, the better: The Ducey summer camp to get kids up to speed in reading, math and civics isn’t a new summer camp, it’s a list of summer camps online that will get some state funding. And some of those listed camps are ambiguous, if not a bit weird, the Arizona Capitol Times’ Nick Phillips reports.

A small dent in the fine: Cyber Ninjas finally got paid, after the Arizona Senate its remaining $100,000 tab with the Ninjas’ last week. But the Ninjas still haven’t paid any of the multimillion-dollar fine they owe to the courts for shirking their responsibilities to turn over public records. 

Amend or die: After a 1487 complaint against the town by a lawmaker who owns an Airbnb, Brnovich has concluded Paradise Valley is violating state law by over-regulating short-term rentals, the Arizona Mirror’s Jerod MacDonald-Evoy reports. The town has to change its ordinance or it could lose state-shared revenues. For more on how 1487 works and its effects, check out our reporting from March.

Big yikes: The University of Arizona Global Campus, formerly the beleaguered Ashford University, lost access to GI Bill funding, Phoenix New TimesElias Weiss reports. Veterans make up a large proportion of students at online for-profit colleges, which often aggressively recruit these students to utilize the funds they get to attend college. 

The most local level is the best level (except HOAs): Neighborhood groups around Tucson work together to make their surroundings nicer, help people find services they may need and get to know each other better, the Arizona Daily Star’s Caitlin Schmidt reports. 

Solidarity with our colleagues in Mexico: Phoenix journalist Nadia Cantú worked as a reporter in Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 2006 when her newsroom was shot up by hitmen. She survived, and no one was ever arrested for the shooting, which injured her now-husband. She shared her story to bring attention to the danger to and killings of multiple Mexican journalists for their coverage.

Bon voyage: Al Macias, an Arizona journalist whose career spans nearly five decades and multiple stations here, retired on Friday as KJZZ’s news director. Read Bill Goodykoontz’s column on Macias’ departure to hear about how significantly doing the news has changed throughout Macias’ career.

This is a relic: As expected, turnout for the goofy Salt River Project election that requires you to own land will be abysmal.

News about us: Rachel talked about the Agenda and running a tiny news outlet on KTAR’s “Think Tank,” which aired this weekend. She also was on AZFamily’s “Politics Unplugged” yesterday to discuss the bills passed last week. And our inaugural Twitter Spaces hangout was really fun — Playboy Manbaby’s Robbie Pfeffer stopped by to talk about politics and art, and we heard great questions and input from the dozens of you who joined. We’ll do it again sometime soon!

The pandemic exposed nursing shortages around the state as hospitals worked to confront a new disease that kept their beds full for months. And now they’re seeing burnout, as some health care workers leave their professions after two taxing years.

Arizona Republican Rep. Joanne Osborne proposes House Bill 2691 as a way to increase the health care workforce and address the critical shortages faced by 37% of hospitals in Arizona, the Arizona Capitol Times’ Kyra Haas reports. 

But, despite the staffing shortages, there are waitlists at nurse training programs and a shortage of people who can train new nurses. The bill would allocate more than $42 million to the Department of Health Services over three years toward expanding and improving nurse education and training programs, including increasing the capacity of nursing education programs. An additional $5 million would go toward behavioral health workforce training at community college systems in Maricopa and Navajo counties.

The bill passed the House and made it through the Senate Appropriations Committee, both with bipartisan support. It awaits a Senate Rules hearing and likely will become part of budget discussions, Haas reports. 

U.S. Paul Gosar, who has never found a rabbit-hole he didn’t want to go down, is now backtracking on his appearance at a far-right conference and blaming his staff, Politico reported last week.

Gosar said Nick Fuentes, the racist, anti-Semitic leader of the America First Political Action Conference, has “got a problem with his mouth.” Besides blaming his staff, Gosar mixed up two cities in Florida, apparently has never used Google to background the people he appears with, and hasn’t met with his party’s leader to talk about all of this. 

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