Tuesday, November 25, 2014

READ, UPDATE: McSALLY/BARBER VOTE COUNT/RECOUNT/LEGAL: Barber Campaign Blasts McSally Attorneys' Alice In Wonderland Arguments, Based On Throwing Out Legitimate Votes

In uncharacteristically blunt language, attorneys for Rep. Ron Barber's (D-CD2) blasted responses and the Motion to Dismiss filed by GOP challenger Martha McSally's legal team earlier Tuesday.  Barber's Reply defending its request for a Temporary Restraining Order (filed Monday) claimed that the McSally argument "offer(ed) little more than broad brush platitudes, inapposite and outdated authority, and callous disregard for the rights of Arizonan voters"


Barber's attorneys (Dan Barr/Kevin Hamilton from Perkins Coie) claim that McSally's argument stands for "the startling proposition that voters have no legal recourse even when they have been denied their fundamental right to vote in an irrational, arbitrary, unlawful, or even unconstitutional
fashion. According to Intervenors, these Arizonans must suffer their disenfranchisement
silently."

The initial hearing on Barber's attempts to rescue the ballots of 133 voters is scheduled for 11am, Wednesday.

McSally currently leads Barber by 161 votes.  An automatic recount will take place in December*





* Unless this somewhat-unlikely sequence of events occurs: Court counts the Barber 133, any similarly-situated voters found by McSally's campaign, and the tally ends up favoring one candidate by more than 200.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

READ, UPDATE: MCSALLY/BARBER VOTE COUNT/RECOUNT/LEGAL: Arizona Election Director Calls Barber Suit "Disruptive", Joins McSally Campaign


State Election Director Christina Estes-Werther's declaration:


Secretary of State Ken Bennett's Response to Barber campaign's TRO Application:


Secretary of State "me, too's" with McSally campaign's Motion to Dismiss:


We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Tea Party Activists Plan To Recruit Sarah Palin To Primary Arizona Sen. John McCain - New York Times

The New York Times is reporting today that "two prominent conservative activists... said leading Tea Party figures planned to reach out to Ms. Palin to see if she was interested in running against Mr. McCain."

Long-time U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is leaning towards running again in 2016 - if he does, it would appear to be largely to shut down his naysayers in the Republican party.

The article discusses how President Barack Obama's executive actions regarding immigration have ignited the Tea Party groups, and how McCain is their top target in the next election cycle.

Palin - former Governor of Alaska and McCain's vice-presidential running mate in 2008 - now lives (at least part time) in Scottsdale, and two of her daughters have gone to school here.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Arizona Governor-Elect Doug Ducey Names Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick, AG-Elect Mark Brnovich To Begin Standing Up To Obama Administration

Arizona Governor-elect Doug Ducey named AG-elect Mark Brnovich and the Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick to co-chair his transition committee on federalism and states' rights today.





We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

UPDATE, MCSALLY/BARBER COUNT: Secretary of State Has "Zero Authority" To Delay Certification Without Court Order, McSally Moves To Dismiss Barber Case

UPDATE, 10:15am: The Court has set a Wednesday 11am hearing on the Barber application for a Temporary Restraining Order and related issues. (below)


In overnight developments in the Rep. Ron Barber/Martha McSally election contest, the Arizona Secretary of State's Office says it will not hold off on certifying the current totals - McSally ahead by 161 votes - without a Court order, and McSally's campaign moves to disimiss the suit filed in federal court yesterday by the Barber campaign (and three of the at least 133 voters who may have received bad instructions from election workers).

Arizona's Politics asked the Secretary of State's Office for a response to the letter sent it by Barber's campaign on Friday and the lawsuit filed yesterday.  Last night, Matt Roberts - Director of Communications - emailed back and said that their office has "zero authority to delay our canvass. The Court would have to order us hold off."

This morning, the McSally legal team attached a formal response from Secretary of State Ken Bennett (see below), that it was still investigating the attachments provided by Barber's attorneys but that it could only delay the statutorily-mandated December 1 certification if one or more counties had not approved their canvasses. Pima and Cochise Counties approved them last week over the Barber campaign's protests.

McSally's legal team filed a memorandum opposing the Barber request for a temporary restraining order:


The McSally team also filed a motion to dismiss the entire complaint filed yesterday by Barber's team.  Among other reasons, the motion asserts that the complaint is really an election contest in disguise and is filed prematurely.


(Assistance on this article from Tempe attorney Paul Weich.)

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Monday, November 24, 2014

UPDATE, McSally/Barber Count/Recount...and Today, NEW LAWSUIT: Barber Campaign Goes To Federal Court

UPDATE, 4pm: Judge Cindy Jorgenson is the judge assigned to the suit filed by Rep. Ron Barber's campaign. Jorgenson has been on the bench since 2002 (appointed by Pres. Bush). Prior to that, she worked in the Pima County Attorney's Office, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Arizona. She was on the Pima County Superior Court bench from 1996-2002. Both her undergraduate and law degrees are from the University of Arizona.

Rep. Ron Barber's (D-CD2) attorneys went to federal court this morning to ask that the ballots of "at least 133 voters" be counted. The 133 had their votes rejected by Pima and Cochise County election officials for several reasons, but the Barber legal team alleges the rejections were incorrect.

A copy of the 25-page complaint, filed by Barber's campaign committee and joined by three of the 133, as provided by the Tucson Sentinel:


The suit asks for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Secretary of State from certifying the election next Monday until the votes are included in the final tally.  GOP challenger Martha McSally currently holds a 161-vote lead.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

BREAKING: Phoenix Out Of Running For 2016 Democratic National Convention

BREAKING: Phoenix has been eliminated as a potential host city for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.






We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Friday, November 21, 2014

BEHIND THE RHETORIC, READ: Obama's Immigration-Related Executive Actions CANNOT Apply To Parents of DACA Recipients (DREAMers), Dept. Of Justice Memo Analyzing Legal Basis Determines

(This article contributed by Arizona attorney Paul Weich.)

Behind the rhetoric, the White House has released two Presidential memoranda regarding immigration today, and it took the somewhat unusual step of releasing the Office of Legal Counsel memo analyzing the legal bases for the executive actions.

In that 32 1/2 page memo (below), dated Wedenesday, Karl R. Thompson - the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel - determines that the Department of Homeland Security's proposed prioritization and deferred prosecution "for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents WOULD be legally permissible", but that similar action for parents of DACA recipients WOULD NOT be permissible.



The memo's logic for not including parents of DACA recipients is chiefly that DACA recipients themselves are here under deferred action and have no legal status; therefore, the family unity policy of U.S. immigration law would not have a foundation to grant the parents deferred action.

As for the executive orders themselves, the White House website has posted two Presidential Memoranda, but no far-reaching Executive Orders.  The Memoranda (below) establish a White House Task Force on New Americans, and directing various agencies to come up with recommendations for "modernizing and streamlining the U.S. Immigrant visa system."




(This article contributed by Arizona attorney Paul Weich.)

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

UPDATE, MCSALLY/BARBER RECOUNT: Barber's Attorneys Submit 24 More Declarations - 156 Total - From Voters Who Claim Were Mis-Directed By Election Workers, Want Votes To Count

Rep. Ron Barber's legal team today submitted declarations from 15 more voters in Pima County and 9 in Cochise County who swore that they were misdirected by election workers, with their ballots rejected.  Together with the 132 declarations submitted on Monday, Barber has now located almost enough apparently-disenfranchised voters to erase GOP challenger Martha McSally's current 161-vote lead.

If you add in 11 additional unnamed Cochise County voters who had their early ballots rejected because they failed to sign the outer envelope and were not given a chance to remedy (as Barber argues they should have), and Barber has located 167 votes he believes should be counted.

As reported earlier by Arizona's Politics, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors today approved the official canvass and rejected the memorandum and declarations submitted by Barber. Pima County did likewise on Monday.

Here is one of the declarations, by a Richard Michael Ross. He describes confusion among the election workers at his polling place, which eventually led to him being instructed to vote a provisional ballot. That ballot was then rejected because he should have been instructed to vote at a neighboring polling place.


"Southern Arizonans who registered to vote and showed up to vote on Election Day deserve to have their voices heard," said Kyle Quinn-Quesada, campaign manager for Ron Barber for Congress. "Mistakes happen in every election, and in a race this close, the right thing to do is to rectify those mistakes by counting every lawful vote."

Once the Arizona Secretary of State certifies the election on December 1, an automatic recount will take place.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

UPDATE, MCSALLY/BARBER RECOUNT: Cochise County Approves Canvass, Rejects Barber Bid To Approve More Ballots

The Cochise County Board of Supervisors this morning approved the official canvass of the November 4 election results, rejecting a bid by attorneys for Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2) to order the counting of ballots by voters who were allegedly misdirected by election workers.

GOP challenger Martha McSally will take a 161-vote lead to the official certification of the election (Dec. 1) and the automatic recount that will follow.

The Cochise Supervisors' decision follows that of the Pima County Board of Supervisors on Monday. In front of them, Barber attorney Kevin Hamilton pleaded the cause of at least 132 voters who signed sworn statements detailing how they had been given incorrect information and had not had their provisional ballots counted.  Cochise County has a much smaller - and, less Democratic - portion of the toss-up Congressional District 2, but Hamilton said that Rep. Barber believes that "just because mistakes are made doesn't mean voters get disenfranchised."

More details to follow.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Barber Attorneys Ask Pima Supervisors To Order Count Of 132 Added Votes; McSally Campaign Claims Opponent Trying To Steal Election By "Exploit(ing) the law"

Attorneys for Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2) appeared before the Pima County Board of Supervisors with a stack of affidavits from 132 voters who did not have their votes counted for a variety of reasons.  Barber asked that the Supervisors order the Elections Department to tabulate those votes.

During Barber's news conference call, the National Republican Congressional Committee ("NRCC") Chairman sent out a McSally fundraising email urging supporters to prevent a "stolen victory" by "liberal Democrats who want to exploit the law."

After the initial counts in Pima and Cochise counties, challenger McSally holds a 161 vote lead over the 1 1/2 term incumbent.  A recount will be conducted in December if the certified numbers show a difference of 200 votes or less between the two candidates.

The voters who signed sworn declarations claim their ballots were not counted for a variety of reasons, including: (1) a voter's spoiled ballot was incorrectly replaced by a provisional ballot; (2) an elderly voter's early ballot was not counted because her signature has changed; and (3) a retired teacher recently moved, went to closest polling place and was improperly advised by the pollworker.

Barber attorney Kevin Hamilton says that the common element is that the 132 would have had counted ballots but for errors by pollworkers or Election Department workers.

His argument to the Board of Supervisors was that "just because mistakes are made does not mean voters get disenfranchised."

Hamilton indicates that they will be submitting some currently-uncertain number of similar declarations from voters in Cochise County.  Cochise's Board of Supervisors is scheduled to approve the canvass on Thursday.

After reports that the Pima Supervisors had just rejected his request (during the conference call with reporters), Hamilton stated "that's disappointing, it's a mistake and we'll be examining our options."

The request had been made pursuant to A.R.S. §16-643, which provides the methods for the canvass.

The Board of Supervisors had been presented with a memorandum earlier in the day from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, urging approval of the vote-counting.  The memo (republished below) indicates that 776 (of 10,118) provisional ballots were not counted for a variety of reasons.  (The validity rate was 92.3%) Those reasons include: 


Under the subject line "Stolen Victory?", NRCC Chairman Rep. Greg Walden wrote on behalf of the McSally campaign and touched the hot-buttons of the coming recount, lawyers, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama to urge contributions.  The email begins by stating that "liberal Democrats who want to exploit the law" and trying to steal McSally's victory.  (The entire email is reproduced below.)




We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Arizona Obamacare Premiums DECREASE 10% For Key Health Insurance Benchmark Policy; Arizona, New Mexico Lowest In Nation

(This article contributed by Tempe attorney Paul Weich, and Tempe insurance agent George Fontaine. Mr. Fontaine, of RSP Insurance, is a Certified Health Insurance Marketplace agent.)

Lost in all of  the news coverage* of the 2nd open enrollment period for health insurance policies in Arizona's Obamacare Marketplace is that premiums for the benchmark policy dropped 10% from last year.  Also, that New Mexico and Arizona have the lowest premiums in the nation for that policy.

The non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation compared the 2014 and 2015 premiums for the second-lowest "silver" plan in the largest city of each state**. That 2nd-lowest is the benchmark used in calculating the amount of financial assistance an individual may receive (along with other factors).

For a 40-year old non-smoker (the plans cannot distinguish between men and women), the 2nd lowest silver plan in the Phoenix area is $177/month.  It is offered by Meritus, and is their Neighborhood Network Silver HMO MIHS plan.  Here is the basic synopsis, from Arizona's Marketplace (set up by HHS). (This year, you can easily click on links to the Summary of Benefits and the Provider Directory; last year, you had to visit each insurer's website separately.)

The various categories of plans (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Catastrophic) "differ based on how (the customer and insurance company) share the costs of care."

Arizona has 11 different insurance companies offering 44 different silver plans through the Marketplace.  That is a substantial increase from the first year of the Marketplace.  As last year, there are Navigators available to help individuals and families figure out how much premium assistance is available.  HHS has worked closer with insurance agents this year, and many have taken courses to help choose the best plan.

(This article contributed by Tempe attorney Paul Weich and Tempe insurance agent George FontaineMr. Fontaine, of RSP Insurance, is a Certified Health Insurance Marketplace agent. )

* And certainly lost in the flood of negative campaign ads.

** The table only looks at 47 states and the District of Columbia. Arizona's Politics did not determine which three states are MIA, and why.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Gov.-Elect Ducey Begins Standing Up To Obama - Worrying About President's Executive Action Re: Immigration

Arizona Governor-Elect Doug Ducey (Repub.) began fulfilling his campaign promise to "stand up to the Obama Administration".  In a statement released this afternoon in advance of an expected executive order by President Obama about immigration policy, Ducey said it "would be the wrong approach" and that "I worry it will only make matters worse."  (Full statement below.)

***
PHOENIX (November 13) – Governor-elect Doug Ducey issued the following statement today in response to reports that President Obama is considering unilateral executive action on immigration:
We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws.  I believe that everyone must be treated with respect, but the first thing Washington needs to do is rebuild our trust, as Americans, by securing the border.
This kind of unilateral action by the administration would be the wrong approach to dealing with our border crisis and I worry it will only make matters worse.  I encourage President Obama to work with Congress and border state governors, like myself, to address this issue with a common-sense, step-by-step approach that starts with securing the border.  I want to work with the president and our congressional delegation to address this issue, but Im concerned that this kind of action will make those bipartisan opportunities more difficult and further exacerbate the crisis occurring on our southern border.
We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

MCSALLY/BARBER DUEL IN THE DESERT: No Recount? Found Ballots Could Help Give McSally Lead Beyond Recount Threshold

Today's news from Pima County Elections that discovered that some 213 general election ballots had been discovered yesterday and today could hand GOP challenger Martha McSally a victory with no recount needed.

Her current lead over Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2) is 133 votes.  The threshold for an automatic recount is 200.  If she picked up 68 votes from the conditional provisionals and others left to count, there would not be an automatic recount.

The newly-discovered ballots - which have a number of Republicans up in arms on social media - come from the Continental Elementary School District.  Here is a map of the district:
That area has voted heavily for McSally. The current vote total for one of the precincts, Prct 84, is 1,602-968, or 62%-38%.  The other precincts are a bit closer.  It is highly likely that McSally will pick up a majority of these 213 votes; if they match the 62% clip, she would add 52 (of the needed 68) right there.

***

In other McSally/Barber news, the lawsuit filed by McSally's legal team on Monday, to stop the counting of provisional ballots if the receipt was not signed by the pollworker, has been voluntarily dismissed by the McSally campaign.

After the Superior Court judge denied their request for a Temporary Restraining Order to segregate those ballots and slammed the likelihood of success on the argument down the road, the McSally team saw no reason to keep the lawsuit alive.


We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

READ: Pleadings, Ruling In Yesterday's McSally Challenge To Provisional Ballot Envelopes Unsigned By Pollworker

As expected, Pima County Superior Court Judge John Marner denied the request for the Temporary Restraining Order requested by Martha McSally's legal team, and permitted Pima County to continue processing and counting provisional ballots in which the form was not signed by an election worker.






We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.