A few takes on the midterm elections as the vote-counting plods along…
Governor proves nice guys finish first
Doug Ducey’s overwhelming reelection victory is a perfect example of the maxim that good policy makes good politics. In an election where so many races saw voters torn between candidates, the governor delivered a resounding mandate for his optimistic, forward-looking agenda.
To be sure, Gov. Ducey’s campaign was expertly run and expertly managed. It should serve as a model case study for a campaign school for any party. It touched every corner of the state, built an impenetrable bipartisan coalition of respected leaders, and articulated the governor’s record and vision for the future.
And candidates matter. A lot. Voters over the last four years got to see someone who is firm in his convictions, but always respectful of opposing viewpoints. Someone who successfully repaired relationships with our neighbor Mexico, while improving security with his border task force. Someone who was comfortable playing the role of economic developer in chief, always willing to tell the good news about the state of which he is so proud. Someone willing to respond with boldness in response to big challenges like his 20×2020 teacher pay plan and the passage of Proposition 123, but while keeping the state budget balanced and the general fund healthy. Someone who kept his promise to reduce taxes every year (by indexing tax brackets to inflation, for example). Voters got to know the governor and they liked him.
But without the governor’s pursuit of policies that instilled confidence in voters to grant him another term, he would have had little to talk about on the stump as he took on a talented opponent who nearly won statewide office in 2014.
But the Ducey record was a strong one. His embrace of pro-growth policies has made Arizona’s economy the envy of the nation. From tax reform, to regulatory relief, to transformational investments in education, to his work to dramatically enhance our relationship with Mexico and bolster our international trade standing, Gov. Ducey has proven he is a governor for all Arizonans, and easily the most jobs-friendly governor in America.
The governor is ready to take on big issues in the next term, like brokering an agreement on water management, which is vital as Lake Mead dips to a dangerous level.
Gov. Ducey’s huge margin of victory should serve as the model for any Republican. If there was any campaign in Arizona this cycle with down-ballot coattails, it was his. He showed how to bridge the urban-rural divide. As the state’s most populous county continues to become more purple in its political shade and as party loyalty continues to erode, the GOP will need candidates with the governor’s style and temperament. Otherwise, in another election cycle or two the party will stand little chance in competitive races.
Take a hike, Tom Steyer
The election is a washout for California activist billionaire Tom Steyer. Not only did he suffer a rough night in Arizona, but nationally.
In Arizona, he ran into a buzzsaw that was the No on Prop. 127 campaign, which assembled the most impressive coalition of interests united behind one cause I’ve ever witnessed in state politics. Despite his millions, Steyer was crushed.
Even before his energy mandate campaign came to its embarrassing defeat, his team was shifting resources to other races and moving the goalposts on how it would define success.
Steyer attempted to knock out Attorney General Mark Brnovich. He failed. He tried to flip control of the Legislature. He failed. He backed the election of two Corporation Candidates friendly to his agenda. He failed.
Steyer’s attempt to inject himself into Arizona politics shined on a light on the need for further reform to Arizona’s citizen initiative process. For starters, measures to prevent fraud should be strengthened.
Voters wisely retained Supreme Court Justices Clint Bolick and John Pelander. Both received over 70 percent of the vote, turning back a campaign that called for their removal from the bench after the justices’ decision to remove an ill-conceived, misleading tax-hike initiative from the ballot.
Not only did Bolick and Pelander deserve to be retained based on their sky-high ratings from the Judicial Performance Review, but the election sent a message that special interests attempting to degrade our retention system or inject hyper-partisanship into an independent judiciary will be strongly rejected.
A consequential freshman
Congratulations to Congressman-elect Greg Stanton, who is poised to do big things as a freshman member of Congress.
During his time at City Hall, the former Phoenix mayor led well over a dozen trade missions to Mexico. He’s studied issues like trade and immigration up close. He understands them and has a passion for them.
With the ratification process of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement looming and the urgent need to resolve thorny immigration issues like DACA, Rep. Stanton could be a major player in the U.S. House.