The Skinny has noted the Arizona Republican Party's descent into madness in recent weeks, what with the ongoing #StopTheSteal BS that courts and mainstream Republicans such as Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich have rejected. (Admittedly, Brno briefly flirted with signing onto a Texas lawsuit that suggested that Texas should decide the election results in other states, but he has not joined in the looney Sharpiegate lawsuits and other crackpot theories advanced by Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward.)
As you may have seen in the news, Ward herself may or may not have actually won the recent election that put her back in the chair's position for another two years. Questions about Ward's victory have been raised by Southern Arizona political activist Sergio Arellano, who allegedly lost to Ward by a mere 42 votes, according to the Arizona Republic. Ward, of course, says there's nothing to see here—once the votes are counted, results are final and she is not getting into how the votes were tabulated, even though the results of at least one party race were flipped as a result of "human error." Is Ward the legitimate chair of the Arizona GOP? Guess we'll always have a cloud hanging over this one, given that anything could have happened in those smoke-filled back rooms where the ballot-counting took place.
Moving on: So the Arizona Republican Party is dominated by crazy activists. That doesn't mean that the elected state lawmakers are crazy, does it? Surely they are using their time at the Legislature to seriously address the coronavirus, improve the state's education system and otherwise deal with the serious challenges facing the state, right?
To answer that question, let's look at some bills making their way through the Legislature this year:
• HB 2720, sponsored by state Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix) would allow the state Legislature to toss the results of the Arizona presidential election and award Arizona's electoral votes to anyone lawmakers choose right up until inauguration day. In addition, the Legislature could exert this power whether or not it is in special or regular session. (As baseless allegations regarding Biden's win of Arizona's electoral votes swirled this year, the cuckoo lawmakers who were spreading the charges couldn't do much about it because neither Ducey nor legislative leaders would call the Legislature into session. This would allow the nutjobs to sidestep that problem in the future.) The proposed law would also prohibit courts from tossing election challenges, no matter how frivolous, and instead allow any party to an election challenge to demand a jury trial, which must be granted and swiftly carried out. Bolick says all the outrage over her bill is being driven by "the mainstream media using this elections bill as click bait to generate misleading headlines. This bill would give the Arizona Legislature back the power it delegated to certify the electors. It is a good, democratic check and balance." Sure, if your idea of "check and balance" is changing the will of the voters to the will of the majority of 90 lawmakers.
• Speaking of election "reform," HB 2369, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Payne (R-Phoenix), would require mail-in ballots to be notarized, which would require people to pay someone in order to cast a ballot. A modern-day poll tax that's designed to throw roadblocks in the path of mail-in voting? You bet your ass it is.
• HB 2358, sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills), would automatically knock people off the voter registration rolls if the Post Office informs the County Recorder that they have moved. Under the current law, voters are allowed to cast provisional ballots at their new address if they have moved but not updated their address but can demonstrate that they are living in the precinct where they cast a vote. It's plainly another effort to make it harder for people to vote.
• HB 2650, sponsored by Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Flagstaff), would criminalize abortion and make it possible for prosecutors to file negligent homicide charges against doctors who perform abortions and women who receive them. Blackman gets credit for taking the anti-abortion movement to its logical Handmaid's Tale-style conclusion, even though most of the pro-life gang doesn't say this quiet part out loud. At the moment, Blackman's legislation is unconstitutional, but you can expect a lot more of these bills emerging around the country when Trump's appointees get around to overturning Roe v. Wade.
This is just some low-hanging fruit; sadly, there are plenty more bad ideas floating around the Legislature, given that more than 1,400 bills have been introduced. There's a lot more where this list is coming from. While some of these bills aren't likely to get too far, others could actually go the distance in this Legislature. We'll keep you updated.
A Note of Resignation
Tucson City Councilman Paul Durham, who was first elected in 2017, is resigning from the job.
"Representing the constituents of Ward 3 has been a profound privilege," Durham wrote in his letter of resignation. "However, in order to attend to personal matters, I am now compelled to resign from my position as the Ward 3 councilmember prior to the expiration of my term."
Durham's last day in office will be March 1.
Durham had previously taken a leave of absence from the council job in September 2020 to focus on caring for his husband, Philippe, who has been suffering from cancer, but Durham had since returned to the job.
Mayor Regina Romero thanked Durham for his service on the council.
"Paul has been a dedicated advocate for the residents of Ward 3 and has truly exemplified what it means to be a public servant," Romero said in a prepared statement. "I am grateful for his leadership on issues ranging from climate action to affordable housing and will miss his voice on the council. I know this must have been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and I ask our community to join me in thanking him for his service to Tucsonans and respecting his privacy at this time."
The City Council will appoint someone to fill Durham's seat through the remainder of the year.
A primary election for the Ward 3 seat was already set for August 2021, with the general election to follow in November.
Correction: Last week's Skinny column incorrectly reported that Ralph Atchue, who is putting together a recall campaign against Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem, ran against Finchem in 2018. Atchue ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in District 11, not the House of Representatives. And to clarify, Gov. Doug Ducey has said he is not running against U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022.