Hey, you're busy—and even if you weren't, you wouldn't have time to waste on the cranks, wackos and clowns that have taken over the political circus.
If you're looking for a little advice from the peanut gallery, here are our selected endorsements of candidates and propositions to help.
We decided not to make endorsements in some races, either because the result is not really in question, or we didn't feel we had enough information to make a recommendation.
U.S. Congress, District 8: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has delivered for Southern Arizona. The much-maligned stimulus package may not have done all that was promised, but it provided enough money to ensure that the state continued to offer some degree of support to the schools, the universities, the poor people who need health-care coverage and a whole lot of others. If you need proof, check with Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who is more than happy to dish out stimulus money and then take credit for it.
Giffords has supported common-sense solutions to the problems on the border. She has been a fierce advocate of investing in the high-tech jobs of the future. And she has been a strong supporter of the U.S. military, fighting for fire stations at Fort Huachuca, improvements for the Barry M. Goldwater Range and expanded services for veterans.
Just last week, Giffords delivered a $50 million federal grant to help keep Tucson cops on the streets. A few months before that, she voted for crucial dollars for Arizona's schools and health-care programs.
Her Republican opponent, Jesse Kelly, offers no support for any of those ideas. Instead, he promises to do little for Arizonans besides cut taxes for the wealthiest residents, destroy Social Security and Medicare for future generations, and stand up for oil companies that are responsible for ecological disasters.
We need someone who wants to fix government, not destroy it. Vote Giffords.
U.S. Congress, District 7: Congressman Raúl Grijalva
Congressman Raúl Grijalva made a bone-headed move with his call for a boycott of the state in the wake of SB 1070, but we still agree with the majority of his votes, and are especially happy with his efforts to kill the environment-destroying Rosemont Mine proposal. Meanwhile, Republican opponent Ruth McClung's platform just isn't our cup of tea. Vote Grijalva.
U.S. Senate: No Recommendation
There's no way we'd endorse Sen. John McCain these days; he completely lost our respect when he went so far as to claim that he never considered himself a "maverick." His flip-flop on badly needed comprehensive immigration reform is a disgrace—as are so many of the other actions he's taken since veering to the right during his failed 2008 presidential run.
But we can't endorse Rodney Glassman, either. There are serious questions about his character, and the fact that he bailed on his Tucson City Council commitment during a financial crisis to further his political ambitions has never sat well with us.
Governor: Terry Goddard
As we've said in the past: We'll give Gov. Jan Brewer credit for championing the one-cent-per-dollar sales-tax increase that will keep the state from completely collapsing over the next three years, but she's still the wrong choice in November, for innumerable reasons.
The biggest reason: The current crop of far-right-wing GOP lawmakers now running the Arizona Legislature is going to prevail in November, and next year, they'll be ready to chop up the state even more than they already have. We stand on the edge of losing our investments in everything from state parks to the universities if someone doesn't stop them—and Democrat Terry Goddard is far more likely to do that than Brewer.
Goddard may not set the campaign trail on fire, but he's proven himself to be an able administrator who won't be ready to throw people off transplant lists just to ensure that there's enough money for tax cuts. Vote Goddard.
Secretary of State: Chris Deschene
This was the toughest call we faced regarding statewide offices. Secretary of State Ken Bennett has done a decent job since taking over for Jan Brewer, and Chris Deschene has run a campaign so far that could best be described as "uninspired."
However, we love Deschene's resume, and should the governor resign for whatever reason, we'd rather have Deschene heading the state than a Republican who would probably support much of the insanity coming out of the Legislature.
Attorney General: Felecia Rotellini
Democrat Felecia Rotellini tends to talk a little too much nonsense about the border, but we'll still take her over Republican Tom Horne, who has a disturbing pattern of exploiting racial politics to advance his political career. His eagerness to fight with the federal government seems like a waste of money, and his proposal to ban ethnic-studies classes at the Tucson Unified School District strikes us as way too much Big Brother.
State Treasurer: Andrei Cherny
Even his political opponents concede that Andrei Cherny is loaded with smarts. A former state prosecutor who dealt with financial cases, Cherny understands the complicated world of finance. And he's moderate enough to earn the endorsement of Jim Kolbe, the former Republican congressman who is chairing the Cherny campaign.
His opponent, Republican Doug Ducey, is trying to launch a political career after expanding the Cold Stone Creamery ice cream franchise. The jury is out on whether he was a good businessman—he certainly made plenty of money, but many of his franchisees complain that they get hosed in the process—but we know he's not that good at managing multiple accounts, because he skipped out on paying the property taxes on his own $1.4 million Paradise Valley home for years. If Ducey can't keep track of his own books, what makes anyone think he can keep track of the state's finances?
State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Penny Kotterman
Democrat Penny Kotterman is a longtime advocate for teachers who understands how the schools work, while Republican John Huppenthal is Republican lawmaker who has undermined public education at every opportunity. This may be the biggest no-brainer on this year's ballot. Vote Kotterman.
Arizona Corporation Commission: Dave Bradley
Democrat Dave Bradley has ably served Tucson for the last eight years in the Arizona Legislature, and we're convinced he'd make a good addition to the Arizona Corporation Commission. The Republican candidates seeking seats on the ACC talk about their support for renewable-energy standards, but they appear to be leaning a little too much toward nuclear power. While nuclear power shouldn't necessarily be off the table, it should not be a priority.
State Senate, District 25: Manny Alvarez
The GOP majority at the Arizona Legislature is hell-bent on destroying all that they can in this state. Having Democratic Sen. Manny Alvarez at the Legislature makes it harder for them to do that, while having Republican challenger Gail Griffin would make it easier. Vote Alvarez.
State Senate, District 26: Cheryl Cage
State House, District 26: Nancy Young Wright
State Senate, District 30: Todd Camenisch
We've gotten a glimpse at what Republican Sens. Al Melvin and Frank Antenori plan to do if they're re-elected: People who are desperate for health care will suffer and die. Our schools will be starved. Our universities will be hacked to pieces. Our highways will become toll roads. Our parks will be handed off to the private sector—and good luck to any troublesome wildlife.
And on and on and on. If there's something you care about that's been built in this state over the last two decades, you can kiss it goodbye.
We fully grasp that the state faces a financial crisis. But the real fix is to seriously reform the tax code so that it adapts to a 21st-century economy, not to shut down everything besides the schools and then give the savings away as tax cuts for the wealthiest residents.
Here's your alternative: In Legislative District 26, Democrat Cheryl Cage is a small-business owner who offers an alternative to Melvin that's not driven by dogma. And in Legislative District 30, Democrat Todd Camenisch is a professor in the UA School of Pharmacy who understands better than most the importance of investing in the future and building an economy on something besides tax breaks and locked doors.
Vote for real solutions. Vote Cage and Camenisch.
We encourage you to cast only one vote in the Legislative District 26 House race: for Democratic incumbent Nancy Young Wright. Wright has been a staunch supporter of education, has a sterling record on environmental legislation and opposes efforts to strip health insurance from poor people and children. Her opponents, Rep. Vic Williams and newcomer Terry Proud, fall too easily in line with the GOP lawmakers like Melvin and Antenori.
State Senate, District 28: Paula Aboud
State House, District 28: Steve Farley and Bruce Wheeler
Republican Greg Krino hopes to pull off a big upset in midtown Tucson's Legislative District 28. The normally safe Democratic territory is up for grabs this year, because the Democratic incumbent, Paula Aboud, is facing a challenge not only from Krino, but also from Ted Downing, a former Democratic state lawmaker running as an independent, and Dave Ewoldt, a former Green Party activist running as an independent.
We suggest voters support Aboud, who has reliably resisted the GOP agenda at the Capitol, over the other candidates.
While we appreciate Downing's stated agenda of reducing partisanship at the Capitol, we fear he's given to political flights of fancy that are not helpful to governing; meanwhile, Ewoldt's agenda is too neo-hippie for even us. Krino would just help the GOP continue its agenda to dismantle state government.
We also endorse the Democratic team of Rep. Steve Farley and Bruce Wheeler in the LD 28 House race. While he has few victories to show in the GOP-controlled Legislature, Farley has proven himself to be an effective advocate for smarter budgeting and policy at the Capitol, while we know we can count on Wheeler to be a passionate fighter and determined deal-maker for Southern Arizona.
Proposition 106 (Health Care): No
Prop 106 would amend the Arizona Constitution to "preserve the freedom of Arizonans to provide for their health care." It all sounds great, but the real aim of the prop is to undermine the new federal health-care plan passed by Democrats, by saying that Arizonans can't be required to buy private insurance.
A couple of points: State law, even a constitutional amendment, does not trump federal law, so this is just another opportunity to waste taxpayer dollars in lawsuits; if the state fights the feds, we pick up the tab for the whole thing. Secondly, the only way to make sure that we do fix our health-care system in a way that ensures that sick people get care (short of having the government insure everyone) is for everyone to have insurance, spreading the risk pool as widely as possible. Vote no.
Proposition 107 (Affirmative Action): No
Prop 107 purportedly seeks to ensure that people get promoted on the basis of merit rather than their gender or the color of their skin. It's certainly a noble goal, but let's face it: "Merit" is a slippery qualification in any competition, and there's a long history of women and minorities being shortchanged.
We fear this one would have unintended consequences by, for example, stopping efforts to encourage more women to get engaged in areas such as science and technology. Also, look at the list of supporters, which includes notorious California activist Ward Connerly and state Sen. Russell Pearce. Yikes. We're urging a vote of no.
Proposition 109 (Hunting Laws): No
Prop 109 would create a new constitutional right to hunt and fish in Arizona, and would block future propositions that could in any way limit hunting and fishing by giving the Arizona Legislature the exclusive authority to regulate hunting. We think voters have made wise decisions in this area in the past (such as a ban on the barbaric use of steel-jaw traps), so we're not inclined to restrict our authority and amend the Constitution to placate a small special-interest group. Vote no.
Proposition 110 (State Trust Lands): Yes
Prop 110 would ask voters to approve certain types of land swaps related to state trust lands. We've been skeptical of previous efforts to approve land swaps, because the state always seems to come out on the short end of the deal, but this proposal has a number of protections built into it, including giving voters the final say on any swaps. It has widespread support, ranging from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry to the Sierra Club. Vote yes.
Proposition 111 (Secretary of State/Lieutenant Governor): No
Prop 111 would change the title of secretary of state to lieutenant governor, to make it clear that the office-holder becomes governor if the governor leaves office early.
We like that idea; we agree that many voters don't think about the possibility of succession when they vote for secretary of state. However, we fear the possibility of unintended consequences with this initiative—namely, that it may prohibit independent candidates from running for governor or secretary of state. The initiative says that "each nominee for the office of governor shall run on a ticket as a joint candidate in the general election with the nominee for the office of lieutenant governor from the same political party as the nominee for governor."
Critics such as conservative Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb have pointed out that Prop 111 could preclude independents from running for the office, because they're not members of political parties. (It should be noted that supporters of the initiative say that interpretation is wrong, and that independents are considered to be members of a de facto "independent" party, but we're not buying that argument—or the suggestion that it could be fixed later by the Arizona Legislature.)
Proposition 112 (Petition Deadlines): Yes
Prop 112 would push back the deadline for submitting petitions for an initiative campaign from four months before an election to six months before an election. Given the amount of signature-gathering shenanigans that have been going on, it makes sense to give election officials more time to review the petitions that get turned in, and give the courts more time to sort out challenges.
Proposition 113 (Union-Organizing Elections): No Recommendation
Prop 113 would amend the Arizona Constitution to require that union-organizing elections be conducted with a secret ballot. The proposition would attempt to counter any effort at the federal level to pass "card-check" legislation that would allow unions to form if enough workers sign paperwork saying they want to organize.
If passed by voters, Prop 113 could end up in federal court should Democrats in Congress ever pass card-check legislation, which has stalled in Washington, D.C.
We're big supporters of secret ballots, but these days, we're even more skeptical of the business interests that are behind this one.
Proposition 203 (Medical Marijuana): Yes
Prop 203 would legalize medical marijuana for seriously ill patients who register with the state and get a doctor's recommendation. Dispensaries would face a variety of regulations. If smoking a little pot makes sick and dying people feel a little better, they shouldn't have to break the law to do it. Don't buy into the ridiculous scare tactics being pushed by the opponents of this measure. Vote yes.
Proposition 301 (Elimination of Land Conservation Fund): No
Prop 301 would eliminate the Land Conservation Fund created by voters more than a decade ago, and give the roughly $123 million remaining in the fund to lawmakers in order to balance the budget. We're tired of seeing lawmakers swipe money from every pot they can get their hands on instead of seriously addressing the state's broken tax system. Vote no.
Proposition 302 (Elimination of First Things First): No
Prop 302 would eliminate the First Things First program, which funds early childhood development and health programs, and use the estimated $324 million in the fund to help lawmakers balance this year's budget. Future revenues for the fund, which come from an 80-cent-a-pack cigarette tax, would also be turned over to lawmakers to be used at their discretion.
As we said with Prop 302, we don't like the idea of allowing lawmakers to swipe funds, especially since the same folks who want to grab the money want to turn around and give away huge tax breaks to the rich. Vote no.
Proposition 400 (Tucson Sales Tax Increase): Yes ... Barely
Prop 400 would increase the sales tax inside the Tucson city limits by a half-cent per dollar for five years, bringing the combined city, state and transportation sales tax to 9.6 cents on every dollar.
We're not thrilled about the idea of raising sales taxes inside the city limits; these are tough times, and it's hard to ask everyone to pay a little more. We also hate the fact that this could put city businesses at a big disadvantage when compared to businesses in unincorporated county areas.
But the reality is this: The city has seen its revenues drop by at least $69 million since 2007, and there are more troubles on the horizon. The City Council continues to whittle away at the budget, but it's still facing a $50 million shortfall next year. We're already dropping support for festivals, arts programs, sports programs and many other amenities that help improve Tucson's quality of life.
Unless we want to give up on street repairs and drastically cut back on police and fire protection, we have to support Prop 400. Vote yes.
Proposition 401 (Tucson City Charter Amendments): No Recommendation
There's much to like about Prop 401. It would amend the Tucson City Charter, which serves as the "constitution" of the city and sets the powers and responsibilities of the Tucson City Council.
The changes would grant the mayor equal powers to council members; move all city council elections to the same year beginning in 2013; reduce the civil-service protections of department heads; and raise the annual salaries of council members from $24,000 to roughly $61,000, and the mayor from $42,000 to $76,600. (Future pay raises would be pegged to the pay of county supervisors, whose salaries are set by state lawmakers.)
We can live with most of this; the city manager should have the power to manage his staff, and the mayor should have as much power as council members. Council members probably should make more money.
But we're stopping short of endorsing Prop 401, because we don't like the idea of scrapping the staggered elections. If all the council members are elected the same year, that means special interests just need to dump a bunch of money into an independent campaign once every four years to buy the council—and the voters will have little recourse to change direction until another four years have passed.