2018 AZ Legislative Update

The results of last week’s election are still unclear as county recorders from across the state verify signatures on the early ballots voters dropped off at the polls on Election Day. After a long week filled with a high-profile lawsuit and intense scrutiny of Arizona’s longstanding process for counting ballots, Kathy Hoffman (D) has taken the lead in the close race against Frank Riggs (R) for Superintendent of Public Instruction and Steve Gaynor (R) has regained a narrow lead over Katie Hobbs (D) for Secretary of State. Sandra Kennedy (D) and Justin Olson (R) are leading in the race for Corporation Commission. Kyrsten Sinema (D) maintains her lead over Martha McSally (R) in the too-close-to-call race for U.S. Senate.
Arizona’s voter turnout was expected to break records for any midterm election, and it did. The final number of ballots will be available when every vote is counted, but it appears voter participation may exceed even the higher-than-average turnout seen in U.S. Presidential election years.
Click here for up-to-date election results and voter turnout information.
Legislators Select New Leadership
Arizona’s newly elected and returning legislators gathered at the Capitol last week to elect the leadership teams who will guide their efforts over the next two years.
Senate Republicans selected Senator Karen Fann (R-Prescott) as their next President – only the second woman in Arizona history to hold the leadership position. Senator Rick Gray (R-Sun City) will serve as Majority Leader, and Senator Sonny Borrelli (R-Lake Havasu City) will be Majority Whip.
Senate Democrats elected Senator David Bradley (D-Tucson) to serve his last term in the Senate as their Minority Leader. Senator Lupe Contreras (D-Avondale) will be Assistant Minority Leader, and Senator Lisa Otondo (D-Yuma) and Jamescita Peshlakai (D-Window Rock) will serve as Minority Co-Whips.
House Republicans elected Representative Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) as the next Speaker of the House, and Representative Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) as Majority Leader. Representative Becky Nutt (R-Clifton) will serve as Majority Whip.
House Democrats chose Representative Charlene Fernandez (D-Yuma) to serve as Minority Leader, and Dr. Randy Friese (D-Tucson) as Assistant Minority Leader. Representatives Reginald Bolding (D-Phoenix) and Athena Salman (D-Tempe) will be Minority Co-Whips.
In an interview following his election as incoming speaker, Representative Bowers acknowledged that the narrow divide between political parties will make it more difficult to pass controversial legislation, but said it means that both parties will have to compromise in order to pass new laws.  Senate President-elect Karen Fann said that the 17-13 Republican majority in the Senate does not mean Democrats should be ignored in the legislative process. Both Fann and Bowers agree that transportation funding should be a top priority in the upcoming session, since it impacts both urban and rural areas of the state.
Around the Country
In the next term, Congress will have more women, more diversity, and two ex-CIA officers who want to improve America’s cybersecurity.
This election added to the number of states that have voted to expand Medicaid to more people, and in Florida, ex-felons now have restored voting rights.
Legislatures around the country shifted to more control of one political party. Only Minnesota has legislative chambers controlled by different political parties; every other legislature will have one party with a majority in both chambers. This is rare, according to the National Council of State Legislatures: the last time there was only one state with divided political control of the legislature was in 1914.
Republicans maintained their power in Governor’s races in Arizona and many other states. In Alaska, they won the seat formerly held by an Independent governor. Democrats won seven new gubernatorial seats; the Governor’s race in Georgia is still undecided.
Democrats won four new Attorney General races in states across the U.S. (Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin). The remaining states’ Attorneys General, including Arizona’s, did not change political parties.
On the Bright Side…
Those “I Voted” stickers you saw all over social media on Election Day have a long history.
2018-11-20T01:35:48+00:00