It's easy to get cynical about all this political malarkey: The misleading campaign ads, the mudslinging mailers, the annoying robocalls. After a while, the BS becomes overwhelming and it's easy to forget just how much is at stake and conclude your vote doesn't mean anything.
But as recent campaigns have shown—Congressman Ron Barber won election two years ago by a razor-thin margin of 2,500 votes or so—your vote really can make a difference.
And we also understand how much you have to sort through to understand who all these candidates are and what they stand for. So as early ballots are hitting mailboxes, we're releasing our list of endorsements in the races that we think matter the most in Southern Arizona and across the state. There are some very real choices ahead for us: Are we going to put a governor in office who will stand up against the almost-certainly Republican legislature that will be seated in January, or will we elect a man who will enable their worst tendencies to break down everything previous generations have built in this state? Will we put someone in the Secretary of State's Office who will take on dark-money groups that want to buy our elections or someone who has pushed through legislation design to suppress the vote? Will we elect a competent leader to run the state's school system or will we install a conspiracy-minded ideologue who is afraid to show her face on the campaign trail?
These are important questions. To help you understand what's at stake, we've put together this voter guide with our advice on how to fill out your ballot. Please note this is not a comprehensive list. We've focused on competitive races that we've reviewed.
U.S. Congress, District 1
Let's look at the issues: U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who now represents the sprawling Congressional District 1, wants low-income Arizonans to have health insurance. She supports a reasonable and compassionate solution for the undocumented immigrants now in the United States. She backs abortion rights. She believes in gay equality. And she has been a fierce advocate for solutions for the problems in her district.
Then there's Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, the Republican who wants to unseat Kirkpatrick. In the course of his legislative career, Tobin has voted to slash education spending, taken hundreds of millions from the higher-ed budget, cut mammoth holes into the social safety net and stripped health insurance from low-income Arizonans. His corporate tax cuts have set the state up for giant budget shortfall without doing much of anything to boost the economy. He's supported several unconstitutional assaults on abortion rights and opposes gay equality.
In short, we disagree with Tobin on just about every issue and urge you to vote for Ann Kirkpatrick.
U.S. Congress, District 2
We don't agree with every vote that U.S. Rep. Ron Barber has taken since he won election to Congress more than two years ago, but at least we know where he stands most of the time—and that's a lot more than we can say about Republican Martha McSally, who is taking a third shot at winning Southern Arizona's most competitive congressional seat.
McSally has served her country admirably in the U.S. Air Force, but as a candidate for Congress, she has dodged nearly every controversial question we've thrown her way—and when she has taken a position, it's usually the opposite of something she said she stood for in 2012. As a result, we just don't know where McSally stands on far too many issues and we're afraid she just isn't interested in thinking too deeply about the big questions that face the nation—or understanding the needs of Southern Arizona.
While McSally dismisses Barber as a lifelong bureaucrat, he spent his career with the state working to help kids with developmental disabilities. As Gabby Giffords' district director, he learned the needs of Southern Arizona. As a small businessman, he and his wife Nancy worked to help families with small children. And as a congressman, Barber has been rated one of the most likely to vote against his own party. He's supported the Affordable Care Act, but wants to see changes to make the law work better. He's has worked to find solutions to the many problems along the border rather than showboating on the issue. He has tenaciously battled for the A-10, Davis-Monthan and Fort Huachuca. He has worked to help veterans through both legislation and constituent service. And he has assembled a staff that works as hard as any we've ever seen in any government office.
Ron Barber gets Southern Arizona. He deserves your vote.
There are many reasons to support Fred DuVal for governor, from his deep grasp of the issues facing Arizona to his ability to work with people across the political spectrum. (There's a reason he has Republican Grant Woods, who served two terms as Arizona's attorney and co-chaired Gov. Jan Brewer's 2010 campaign, co-chairing his gubernatorial campaign. And there's a reason that so many Republicans, including former lawmakers Jennifer Burns, Carolyn Warner, Susan Gerard and Chris Herstam, are supporting DuVal.)
But the biggest reason we like the idea of Fred DuVal as governor is that in all likelihood, the Legislature will remain under Republican control—and that means DuVal would serve as a check on the terrible ideas that the Legislature has. DuVal likes to say that the "V" in DuVal stands for veto—and on a host of issues, it's time to change the direction of the state. We need to fund our public schools instead of pushing tax dollars to private institutions. We need to stop cutting taxes for the most wealthy people in the state while cutting services for those who are scraping by. We need to build our universities, rather than finding ways to undercut them. We need better relationships with Mexico, rather than wasted tax dollars on border strategies that do nothing to seriously deal with the real issue of illegal immigration. We need to stop treating DREAMers as if they are worthless youth who deserve to be behind bars. We need to stop finding ways to attack gay couples. We need to invest in our highways and state parks and so much more.
Vote for Fred DuVal.