The Skinny

The CD2 Chainsaw Massacre

McSally challenger brings out heavy machinery to put pressure on congresswoman over Trump

Democrat Matt Heinz, who hopes to challenge Congresswoman Martha McSally this year, really tried to create some loud buzz about his campaign this week.

Heinz, a doctor and former state lawmaker, brought out a chainsaw-wielding supporter decked out in a Donald Trump mask and a "Make America Great Again" hat to cut a wooden map of the district in two in front of McSally's office on Monday.

Both Heinz and Victoria Steele, his opponent in the Democratic primary to determine McSally's challenger in the November general election, have been calling on McSally to say whether she would support Trump in the presidential race.

But McSally—who has a long history of dodging controversial political questions—has declined to say whether she would get behind Trump as the nominee, lending credence to the theory that candidates in competitive districts are terrified by the impact Trump could have on down-ticket races.

Heinz's press conference came following a violent Trump rally in Tucson on Saturday.

"McSally's silence regarding Donald Trump is an embarrassment and does not reflect the values of our community," Heinz said. "I am calling on her to condemn Donald Trump. ... I am fed up with McSally and other representatives tolerating candidates like Trump. That's not leadership."

No Puppy Love at the Statehouse

It's a lawmaker-eat-dog world out there

Every year, we see GOP state lawmakers take aim at children, teachers, women's rights, the families of undocumented immigrants, and low-income Arizonans.

So it's probably not that surprising to see them now aiming at puppies.

State Sen. Don Shooter (R-Yuma) last week put forward a striker—which is a bit of legislation that comes along late in the session and takes over a different bill that has survived the process so far—that would prevent local jurisdictions like the cities of Tucson and Phoenix from creating restrictions on pet stores that get their dogs from puppy mills.

The bill does have some restrictions that would prevent pet-store owners from dealing with dog breeders who have run into trouble with USDA. But advocates for the puppies say the USDA standards don't do much to protect dogs, who still end up in inhumane living situations—imagine a tiny cage where a mom can barely turn around—while they do nothing but breed puppies.

"It doesn't have much you can really hang your hat on," said Nancy Young Wright, a former state lawmaker and animal-rights champion. "It's a very weak system that's out there."

Given that there are plenty of dogs and cats that need homes at the Pima Animal Care Center, and in the care of local rescue organizations, it makes sense to reduce the breeding of puppies in inhumane conditions. So the city of Tucson passed an ordinance banning pet stores from selling animals unless they've been acquired from a government shelter or a nonprofit organization like the Humane Society, but the rules on hold while a similar Phoenix ordinance works its way through the courts.

Shooter's bill would short-circuit that by establishing a single statewide standard.

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik called the bill "yet another craven attack on home rule by a state Legislature that's in the pocket of a single business owner who is a front for the puppy mill industry. The bill hides behind the USDA as the gold standard for regulating the conditions in puppy mills, ignoring the fact that the results of their own internal audit revealed the USDA does a poor job regulating the mill industry. There's so much wrong with this bill that it's clear the Legislature wants to rush it through and not allow the voices of animal welfare and consumer advocates to be heard."

The legislation passed the House Water, Agriculture and Lands Committee last week.

Tight Race

A new poll shows tight race between McCain, Kirkpatrick

There's a new poll showing a close race between Sen. John McCain and his Democratic challenger, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick.

The Merrill Poll, conducted by ASU professor emeritus Bruce Merrill, showed that McCain had the support of 41 percent of voters, while 40 percent were supporting Kirkpatrick.

The survey also showed that Arizona could be in play in the presidential race: 38 percent said they favored Donald Trump, while 38 percent said they favored Hillary Clinton. (In a race between Trump and Bernie Sanders, Sanders edged out Trump 39 percent to 36 percent.)

Merrill polled 701 likely voters (45 percent Republican, 33 percent Democratic and 22 percent independent) between March 7 and March 11. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.7 percent.

Bad Bills Update

Most of rotten legislation highlighted in last week's TW is rolling right along through the state house

Last week's cover story looked at some of the worst bills making their way through the legislative process. An update on their progress:

• SB 1487, which would withhold state-shared revenues from cities and towns that pass ordinances in violation of state law—think bans on plastic bags at grocery stores or requirements to report stolen guns—was signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey.

• HB 2599, which is another attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, passed the Senate Federalism, Mandates and Fiscal Responsibility Committee last week and is headed for a vote of the full Senate. The last time the Legislature tried this, a federal court ruled that they acted illegally and ordered the state to pay Planned Parenthood's legal bills. However, the federal government did not withhold any shared revenues to punish the state, as the state will now do to cities.

• SB 1324, which would restrict the use of medication used for abortion, passed the House Judiciary Committee last week and is headed to a vote on the House floor. The last time the Legislature tried this, a federal court ruled that they acted in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

• SB 1474, which would prohibit any medical research into cures for Parkinson's Disease, ALS and other diseases if it involves donated tissue from embryos or aborted fetuses, passed the House Judiciary Committee last week and is headed for a vote of the full House.

• SB 1516, which loosens restrictions on dark-money campaign groups that don't reveal their donors while participating in political campaigns, passed the House Elections Committee last week, setting up a vote by the full House.

• SB 1257, which would prohibit cities, towns and counties from banning people with permits to carry concealed weapons from bringing guns into public buildings, passed the House Judiciary Committee last week, setting up a vote by the full House.

• HB 2507, which would allow lighted billboards in rural areas of the state, died in the House Commerce and Workforce Development Committee.

Pima Community College journalism student Nick Meyers contributed to this report.

Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel is taking an Easter holiday break this week. The program will return to TV and radio next week.