The campaign backing Proposition 127 has taken on a newly partisan tone, causing political observers to question the wisdom of the strategy.
Proposition 127, which is backed by billionaire activist Tom Steyer and that seeks to install a renewable energy mandate into the Arizona constitution, is one of this campaign season’s most hotly contested battles, with both sides spending millions to get their message to voters.
A new television advertisement from the proposition’s proponents claims that state Attorney General Mark Brnovich acted improperly in his office’s management of the process that determines the language that will appear on ballots to describe the measure.
The ad urges voters to vote against Brnovich in his reelection bid.
Yet, Brnovich was simply following the letter of the law. According to A.R.S. 19-125 (D), each printed ballot shall contain “a summary of the principal provisions of the measure, not to exceed fifty words, which shall be prepared by the secretary of state and approved by the attorney general.”
The statute continues to read that the brief phrase, approved by the attorney general, will state “the essential change in the existing law should the measure receive a majority of votes cast in that particular manner.”
Attorney General Mark Brnovich is unphased by the attack.
“The latest attacks from the Yes on 127 committee are shameless and not grounded in reality,” Brnovich said. “As attorney general, it is my duty to ensure ballot initiative language accurately describes the change in law. For the past four years, I have consistently put the people of Arizona first. That’s not going to change. I’m accountable to the voters of Arizona, not special interests who stand to benefit from the outcome of this proposition.”
Kurt Davis, a veteran political consultant, questioned the strategy by the Proposition 127 proponents.
“Attorney General Mark Brnovich is respected across party lines, and when you add partisan politics into a proposition, it’s simply foolish,” Davis said.
The timing of the new strategy coincides with the campaign’s struggling polling numbers. A recent poll by Suffolk University and the Arizona Republic found that Proposition 127 is trailing by about 13 percentage points, with 46.6 percent of respondents indicating they would vote no on Prop. 127, while 33.6 would vote yes.
Nathan Sproul, a Valley political consultant who typically works for right-of-center candidates and causes but who is supporting Proposition 127, said via Twitter the strategy to link the attorney general to the energy mandate measure could backfire.
“I support Prop 127 for AZ clean energy but it is a HUGE messaging mistake [to] conflate a ballot measure w/partisan attack. General Brnovich has done a good job,” Sproul said in a tweet.
Political consultant Ryan O’Daniel said the new tactic shows desperation.
“As people learn about the dangers of Prop. 127 and the negative impact on the economy and hardworking Arizona families, the only path left is personal attacks,” O’Daniel said. “It’s a political hatchet job from an out-of-state liberal who is trying to buy Arizona’s elections.”