What the 2014 Mid-Term Election Means for Arizona
Now that the 2014 election campaign dust has settled and all the ballots have been (mostly) counted, it is time to assess the outcomes and how they impact the people of Arizona. As expected with mid-terms, voter turnout was weak. Only about 36 percent of registered voters showed up to vote.
In a nutshell, the red state (politically speaking) turned a few shades redder, with Republicans beating out Democrats in five of the nine campaigns for House of Representatives seats. No Senate seats were up for contention this cycle. The border with Mexico will likely be more secure. Operating costs could drop for public utilities, medical providers and other businesses. State legislator salaries will remain unchanged. Public education measures are almost certain to shift away from standardized test scores.
Below is a rundown of the key races and what their respective outcomes could mean for Arizona:
Winner: Doug Ducey (R), 54%
- Submit legislation to reduce taxes every year, with the goal of pushing income tax rates as close to zero as possible.
- Use every authority granted to the governor to hold the federal government accountable for its consistent failure secure the border.
- Commit significant new state resources to the prevention and prosecution of violent crimes by persons here illegally.
Potential impact: Governor-elect Ducey’s track record as a business leader (former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery) likely means he’ll drive the state down a pro-business road, pushing to lower taxes and cut red tape where possible. Residents will probably experience tighter border control.
Winner: Mark Brnovich (R), 53%
- Protect all citizens without playing politics.
- Defend our laws when the federal government tramples our Constitution.
- Aggressively pursue and prosecute human traffickers and drug cartels.
- Crack down on crimes affecting children and seniors.
- Advocate for rights of the unborn.
- Make sure our immigration laws are respected and enforced.
Potential impact: With Brnovich’s steadfast desire to protect Arizona from federal encroachment of laws and making sure that the Constitution is upheld, it is unlikely that Arizona will fade from the national political spotlight anytime soon. His tough stance on crime should make the bad guys think twice before trying to do business in Arizona.
Winners: Doug Little (R) and Tom Forese (R), 29% each
Campaign promises: Tom Forese and Doug Little campaigned jointly as one package that will work to:
- Keep energy bills as low as possible.
- Promote all available sources of energy including solar, natural gas, wind, nuclear, clean coal, hydroelectric, and others.
Potential impact: Based on early indications, it appears a key outcome is that the State of Arizona will no longer require power utilities to rebate customers for taking efficiency measures. This will save the companies money, and potentially lead them to profit even more from higher energy use on the part of consumers. Controversy is already swirling over allegations that one power company secretly backed the campaigns of the winning candidates in anticipation of greatly reduced operating costs. Critics argue that with the Republican win at the polls, traditional utilities appear to have won out over sustainable forms of energy such as solar.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Winner: Diane Douglas (R), 51%
- Repeal common core standards.
- Give more control to parents over their children’s education.
Potential impact: Former school-board member Diane Douglas (R) edged out ASU professor David Garcia by a razor thin margin in a ballot count that took nearly a week to complete after polls closed. Her win could signal a departure from standards used widely in Arizona schools that were aligned with college placement guidelines.
Proposition 122: Rejection of Unconstitutional Federal Actions
Outcome: Yes, 51%
Potential impact: Allows the state to opt out of federal laws deemed unconstitutional by the voters or the state legislature. Under the provisions of Prop 122, the state is prohibited from devoting any resources to enforce the law, and the federal government is responsible for the law’s enforcement. For example, if Congress and the President cannot agree on a budget and decide to close the Grand Canyon again, the state may not be able to stop them, but under Prop 122 Arizona would be able to insist they use federal money and federal employees to close it down.
Proposition 303: Investigational Drugs
Outcome: Yes, 78%
Potential impact: This gives eligible terminally ill patients the “right to try” investigational drugs, biological products or devices. The term “investigational” refers to medical treatments that have completed phase one of a clinical trial but have not yet been approved for general use by the Food and Drug Administration and remain under investigation in clinical trials.
The bill also exempts doctors from being prosecuted because they recommended the investigational treatment. Additionally, it makes it illegal for any state official, employee or agent to attempt to block access of the investigational treatment.
Proposition 304: Increase Legislature Salaries
Outcome: No, 68%
Potential impact: Had it been approved, Prop 304 would have increased the salaries of state legislators to $35,000 (an $11,000 a year raise). Opponents of the plan argued that legislative positions are not intended to be a career, but rather a public service position. Rejection of the plan likely means that future candidates for state senate seats will seek election out of a desire to make a difference, while also maintaining a full-time job.
Noteworthy results from local elections around the state:
- Maricopa County voters said yes to Maricopa Integrated Health System issuing $935 million in general obligation bonds to build a new county hospital, upgrade inpatient and outpatient clinics, and expand behavioral health facilities.
- Phoenix voters denied a proposal to overhaul the city’s pension plan from a defined benefit format to defined contribution and make pension spiking a thing of the past.
- Sierra Vista voters approved Proposition 408, which bans the use of photo enforcement traffic cameras in the city limits.