The Skinny

SB 1062 is a point of discussion in the Secretary of State race

Equality Issue

Goddard uses gay couple in campaign ad against GOP opponent in Secretary of State's race

Democrat Terry Goddard took a slight detour on the campaign trail last week with an ad that criticized state Sen. Michele Reagan for voting for a bill that would have allowed discrimination against gays and lesbians.

SB 1062, which was rushed through the Arizona Legislature earlier this year, created a national firestorm. The bill would have allowed business owners to discriminate against gay people if they could justify it on religious grounds.

We should point out that in Arizona, it is currently perfectly legal to discriminate against gays because nothing in the state or federal law prohibits it, so the bill was essentially unnecessary. (State Sen. Al Melvin, in an amusing exchange with a befuddled Anderson Cooper during a CNN segment, tried to explain that the bill was designed to protect business owners from having to deal with those nasty gays who are undermining traditional values on that rapidly approaching day when gay marriage becomes legal.)

As a national backlash against SB 1062 grew, the Arizona business and tourism community freaked out at the thought of Arizona being labeled an anti-gay hotbed that should be boycotted and urged Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill, which she did. We'll see whether the bill resurfaces; in the governor's race, Republican Doug Ducey has said he's sympathetic to the concerns of backers of the bill and told the Arizona Republic he would find a way to "forge consensus on acceptable language protecting religious liberty"—and indeed, one of SB 1062's chief champions was one of Ducey's top advisors, Cathi Herrod. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred DuVal has said he'd veto that kind of legislation.

But back to the Secretary of State's race. Goddard, a Democrat who is facing Scottsdale Republican Reagan, did something very unusual last week with his TV ad last week: He used a married lesbian couple talking about how Reagan supported legislation that would have stripped them of their rights. It was a bold move and it demonstrates how far the fight for gay equality has come. A few years back, Republicans would have been gleefully using gay rights as a wedge issue against Democrats. Now they are embarrassed to face up to their anti-gay votes.

Reagan told the Arizona Republic last week that she didn't realize the implications of SB 1062 when she voted for it—and then the Goddard campaign released a new video from state Sen. Steve Gallardo, who sits next to Reagan on the Senate floor. Gallardo, who revealed that he is gay earlier as a result of the controversy over the bill, said he and others tried to persuade Reagan to vote against the bill.

"We asked her to vote against it," Gallardo said in the video. "She decided not to. She said she wanted to vote for it, and she did."

Campaign strategist Adam Kinsey said that Team Goddard decided to use the fight over 1062 in the campaign because it illustrated the importance of fairness when it comes to administrating the duties of the Secretary of State's Office.

"We thought the lesbian couple told the story of 1062 better than anyone else could," said Goddard campaign strategist Adam Kinsey. "But the issue is entirely about fairness. The Secretary of State is the chief election officer and above all, the chief election officer needs to be fair, and our point is showing this ad is to show that Michele Reagan is not fair. Anybody who would vote to legalize discrimination is not fair."

Koch Embrace

Secret recording shows GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey's allegiance to the Koch brothers' network

There have been a lot of people charging that Arizona gubernatorial nominee Doug Ducey is a tool of the bazillionaire Koch brothers, but it turns out that no one has made the case better than Ducey himself.

Ducey, the former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery who won the Arizona Treasurer post four years ago, didn't make the pronouncement at a debate or in a TV ad. Instead, his confession was captured on a secret recording of a speech he made at a top-secret Koch brothers getaway that was posted first by the Undercurrent website and then given a wider audience at The Nation in a story that broke last week.

The Nation reported that the audio tape, which was posted on YouTube, "shared by The Undercurrent with The Nation illustrates how gubernatorial candidates appealed for the blessing not just of the Kochs but of the network of wealthy donors that can provide support both for specific campaigns and for 'independent' projects such as a primary-season ad blitz highlighting Walker's endorsement of Arizona's Ducey."

The Nation story continued: "As Ducey told the Koch brothers summit on June 16, 'I can't emphasize enough the power of organizations like this.'"

On the tape, Ducey talks about what a big influence the Koch brothers have been on him and makes it clear, in his relatively brief remarks, that he's not just trying to win the job of governor in order to manage the state of Arizona. He wants to use Arizona as an experiment to further the ideological interests of the plutocracy that is working to prove that elections are up for grabs by the highest bidder and the winners have a mandate to deliver tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens, crush unions and generally make it impossible for public education to ever recover from the deep cuts they have endured in recent years.

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