by David Safier
In a stunning but not unexpected move, Arizona Republicans created a cynical end run around Arizona voters. And the top stunner, also not entirely unexpected, is that LD-9 Republican Ethan Orr is the one who allowed it to happen.
Here's the short version — you can read the long version in the Republic and elsewhere. Last year, Republicans passed a voter suppression bill in the AZ Lege. People who objected to it managed to gather 146,000 signatures to put an referendum on the ballot that would let Arizona voters decide if they wanted to keep the new law or repeal it. In a "To hell with the voters" move, Republicans wrote another bill to repeal their own bill. If the new bill passes, they plan to vote the suppression measures back in piece my piece, making them referendum-proof.
The new bill made it through the House Judiciary Committee on a party line 4-2 vote. The only vote in question was Ethan Orr's. Last week, Orr scratched his chin, looking serious and thoughtful, and said he didn't know how he was going to vote. If he decided to vote No, it would have been a 3-3 tie, killing the bill. Because he voted Yes, the bill will go to the full House where it's likely to pass. Orr held the fate of the bill in his hands, and he decided to side with his fellow Republicans and against the voters.
Orr spends a lot of time burnishing his moderate cred, and too many Democrats buy it. They need to take a careful look at this vote and decide if they want to keep believing Orr is the Republican Voice Of Reason. Orr could have allowed the voters to have a voice on this vital issue. Instead he decided it's better to keep as many qualified voters as possible from having a say in our elections.