Friday, August 29, 2008

2010 Watch

We're combing through the rumor mills, news stories, and blogs to give you the latest on the Governor's race in 2010.

Is Jan Brewer thinking about 2010?

She has been front and center a lot lately with the initiative qualification process. She is defending herself against the allegations made by Democratic Party Spokeswoman Emily DeRose. She also challenges Napolitano on Obama's fiscal policy. She is also in the Arizona Capitol Times spotlight. She is also off to the RNC, which as the highest ranking Republican from the Nominee's home state, she'll likely play a role.

Is she getting ready for 2010 or the potential rise to power in 2009 if Obama wins and Napolitano jumps ship?

If you have any juicy gossip or more information, please let us know at

A question to the Home builders

A quick look at the transportation initiative campaign finance report shows that the committee raised about $1.1 million and spent a little over $1 million on their petition gathering effort. In all, the committee paid $617,323.69 to Petition Partners and $324,682.23 to Ziemba Waid.

The committee only received $27,129.34 from the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona. As we have pointed out, they feel that they have met their obligation through the donation and the signatures. Ironically at the time, their campaign said:

"Tom Ziemba, the campaign consultant, criticized Wilhelm's decision to do her own petition circulating. Ziemba said the campaign needs financial support, not signatures."

Looks like they could have used the signatures.

However, our real question is, did the Home Builders ever agree to give the money instead? If so, are they now off the hook because the initiative crashed and burned?

Napolitano at DNC

Washington Post reports on Napolitano's big day jitters.

The Arizona Republic heaps on even more praise.

The AP points to Napolitano to defend Obama's speech.

No comment yet from the Star Trek villain from whom she stole her outfit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Napolitano in Denver - Her initiatives are in the tank

While Governor Janet Napolitano goes around the DNC shaking hands and meeting delegates, her Transportation and State Trust Land initiatives have been permanently removed from the ballot.

The State Supreme Court upheld the ruling last week that the challenges to the Secretary of State were not filed in time. The result is that Prop 103 "Conserving Arizona's Water and Land" and Prop 203 "Transportation Infrastructure Moving Arizona's Economy" will not be on the ballot.

Espresso Pundit is covering the Channel 12 round table where Arizona Democratic Party spokesperson Emily Bittner-DeRose is claiming that Secretary of State Jan Brewer somehow "fixed" the process to skew the sample. While the statement is ludicrous, don't think that this is the last time that the finger is going to be pointed away from the people who were really responsible. The fact is, the Governor and her handpicked people dropped the ball on these initiatives. Ultimately, they didn't fail because of the sample, they failed because they didn't challenge in enough time.

We're sure that not taking the signatures from the Home builders to make a point seems very foolhardy at this point. It would be interesting for them to run some validity checks on their sample to see how they did compared to the abysmal results that those guys were able to achieve.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Governor 0 for 2 on initiatives

The State Trust-Land initiative has been officially kicked off the ballot. It joins the transportation tax increase as initiatives supported by the Governor that are having a hard time making it onto the ballot. It appears that the same lawyer who is representing the Transportation plan will also be working to get State-Trust back on the ballot.

With the Medical Choice initiative making it back, Napolitano backers may be able to save her initiatives as well. The question is, how do they sell their issues to the public starting from such a depressed position?

Let's assume for a minute that one of them makes it back. The first thing that opponents will say is that these guys had to sue to get their ballot heard. What is their response going to be? If they had started to educate the public before now and had people to stand up and come to their defense, perhaps they could withstand such negative statements. However, odds are, they are going to roll out the Governor to come to their defense because its easy and she is popular.

In this case, that is not going to be enough to get them over the hump. First, she is going to have a prominent role in the presidential race, so she is going to be busy and she is going to turn off a significant base of the Arizona folks who are voting for McCain. Second, with such complicated issues, voters are going to want to know the details and how it impacts them. That isn't something you start doing after the primary. That is a process that takes a little while.

More Napolitano wheeling and dealing

Governor Napolitano has cut a deal with Honeywell to divert $1 million of their fine for polluting to her pet project, the Western Climate Initiative. This story was first broken by Espresso Pundit and has since by picked up by the Tribune and others.

Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce takes the Governor to task saying that the money should be used for environmental projects impacted by the pollution, instead of Napolitano's hand picked projects. You can read Pierce's letter here also thanks to Espress Pundit.

This is the latest example of a deal coming public that may have made it outside of Napolitano's spin machine. Between this and the secret deal with the Homebuilders that seems like it will never die, she doesn't appear to be doing as good of a job of either a) masking her agenda or b) selling the state on her big ideas.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

State Trust Land reform also in trouble

The Governor's other big initiative also looks to be in trouble. According to the Arizona Capitol Times, the initiative is suffering the same low validity rate that plagued the transit initiative.

Not surprisingly, if you look at the finance reports for both groups, State Trust and TIME, you'll see that they used the same company to gather their signatures. One has to assume that this is not going to be a good business development move for Petition Partners.

Napolitano believes that transit plan will make it

Governor Napolitano believes that voters will have a chance to weigh in on the $42 billion dollar transportation plan in November. The plan supporters are busily trying to do their own signature checks and push through their lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the Tucson Citizen is gearing up to help shift the blame in case the plan doesn't make it. They claim that the failure in transportation is not by the Governor, the consultants or the petition gatherers. Rather, all of the transportation woes should be blamed on the legislature.

Governor defends Pearce?

Check out the window. Are pigs flying? First, the Arizona Republic defends Russell Pearce against personal attacks, and now Governor Napolitano is following suit.

According to the Political Insider, Napolitano said:

"I am concerned about tone. Do I support Russell Pearce? No. But I think there are ways to talk to voters about that without the personal attacks."

Now bear in mind, they are not saying that they support Russell Pearce or his policies. What they are really saying is that the people who are using personal attacks to go after him have crossed the line.

Apparently, there is a line that can be crossed.

Now, the question is, when campaign finance come due in the next week or two, are any of Napolitano's supporters going to be on the donation list to the committees doing the personal attacks?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

TIME not giving up

The folks behind the Governor's transportation plan are not giving up. They have a plan on how they will get their initiative on the ballot, which Espresso Pundit has so graciously shared the talking points for the meeting. We are personally racking our brains to think about the email that starts with G who was supposed to get the email.

You can see these talking points in action in a memo from PolitickerAZ's 6th most influential person:

Memorandum: Regarding the TIME Initiative

From: Tom Ziemba
TIME Initiative Campaign Manager

Re: Ballot Qualification

I wanted to update you on where the TIME Initiative stands in the ballot qualification process. But before I give you the background on this issue, let me first simply tell you that we are very confident that the TIME Initiative WILL be on the ballot this year.

As you may have heard, the Secretary of State issued a statement yesterday saying that, based on the preliminary information about our signature validity rates, the TIME Initiative would not qualify for the ballot. While we strongly dispute her finding, the statement was not a surprise. We have been preparing for this stage in the process for some time and we are ready to move forward to qualify TIME for the ballot.

The fact is, signature counts from the Secretary of State and Maricopa County are troubling and unusual this year. For TIME as well as other initiatives, there appears to be a large number of Arizona citizens who were arbitrarily disqualified from having their voices heard in the initiative process.

Based on our independent review of the signatures deemed “invalid’ by the Secretary of State and Maricopa County, it appears that thousands of petitions signed by registered Arizona voters were wrongly discarded. Once we complete this analysis, our campaign plans to file legal action to reinstate thousands of valid signatures that should have rightly been counted by the Secretary of State and Maricopa County.

The stakes could not be higher for Arizona. Arizonans’ quality of life is suffering because of traffic and lack of choices in our transportation system. The TIME Initiative is designed to ease those transportation pressures, giving people more options and more time to do the things they love, instead of sitting in traffic. The Initiative contains a balanced plan that includes more resources for highways, local roads, rail and other public transportation options – as well as significant resources to ensure that our state’s natural beauty doesn’t suffer as we improve our transportation system.

We will keep you posted in the coming days as we move forward to qualify for the ballot. Please also know that this is not distracting our team from preparing to launch a dynamic, aggressive campaign to talk to Arizonans about our transportation challenges and how TIME can help make life a little better in our state.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me or any member of our team if we can be of assistance.

Tom Ziemba

P.S. Stay tuned in the coming days for the launch of the TIME campaign website!

A Sinking Ship?

Now, these probably weren't coordinated to go out the day after the failure of the TIME initiative, but several of the Governor's key staff members are leaving the office on September 15th. Here is the release:

Governor's staff to turn over next month

PHOENIX - Governor Janet Napolitano has announced changes to her senior staff and has announced a new state agency leader.

Dennis Burke, Napolitano's Chief of Staff, will leave his job in mid-September to work on a variety of political campaigns in Arizona. Burke has worked with the Governor since her days as United States Attorney, and has been Chief of Staff since she took office as Governor in 2003.

Over the course of his career, Burke has worked for the U.S. Department of Justice and in the White House as a Senior Policy Analyst, coordinating crime and drug policies and acting as a liaison to federal law enforcement. Burke worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, prosecuting narcotics cases, and as the Chief Deputy Attorney General for the State of Arizona.

Replacing Burke is Jan Lesher, currently the Director of the Arizona Department of Commerce. Prior to her work at Commerce, Lesher was the Director of the Governor's Southern Arizona Office, working to forge solid relationships between state government and rural Arizona.

A Tucson native, Lesher has also served as Vice-President of Communications and Marketing for the Tucson Economic Development Corporation; Executive Director of the Tucson Community Cable Corporation; and Vice President of Warner-Amex Cable. She has an extensive and impressive history of community involvement, including service with the Arizona Town Hall; the Greater Tucson Economic Council; the Tucson Airport Authority; La Frontera; and she was named Metropolitan Tucson Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year in 2005.

The Governor has also announced that George Cunningham, Deputy Chief of Staff for Finance and Budget, will retire. Cunningham has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in state government. He served eight years in the Arizona Legislature, from 1993 to 2000; during his time in the Senate, he was the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and served as Minority Whip in his second term.

Prior to his legislative service, Cunningham worked as Vice President for Administrative Services at the University of Arizona, as well as in other administrative and financial capacities at the University. He served as Chief of Staff for Governor Rose Mofford; Chief Policy Advisor to the Arizona State Senate President; Executive Director of the Pima Association of Governments; and Assistant City Manager of South Tucson, Arizona.

James Apperson will take over as Deputy Chief of Staff for Finance and Budget. Since October 2006, Apperson has served in the Governor's Office as Director of the Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting. Prior to joining the Governor, Apperson was President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, overseeing all aspects of the operation including policy analysis and legislative advocacy.

Apperson has also worked for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Maricopa Community Colleges; Southwest Gas; the Arizona House of Representatives, as a research analyst; and the Arizona Corporation Commission. Apperson has served twice before in the Governor's Office, during the Mofford and Babbitt administrations.

The Governor's Legislative Liaison and Deputy Chief of Staff, Mike Haener, will also move on. Haener has also served with the Governor since the beginning of her term, as Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs. His work has been critically important to advancing the Governor's agenda, including the creation of voluntary, statewide full-day kindergarten, establishing a medical center in downtown Phoenix, and creation of Science Foundation Arizona.

Before joining the Governor's Office, Haener was the Director of Legislative Affairs and Communications, working with Napolitano at the Office of the Attorney General; had his own consulting business, working on campaign strategy, public policy and by guiding candidates during the formative days of Arizona's vote-by-mail program; and was an Assistant to the Mayor of the City of Phoenix.

The Governor has appointed Suzie Barr to take over duties as Director of Legislative Affairs. Barr currently serves as the Governor's Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs and Policy Advisor for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. Prior to working for the Governor, Barr was a prosecutor for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, and worked in Washington, D.C. for Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona and has a Juris Doctorate from the Arizona State University College of Law.

Finally, Marco Lopez, Jr., will take over as Director of the Arizona Department of Commerce, continuing an early and successful career of service to the state. In 2000, Lopez was elected Mayor of the city of Nogales, Arizona - at the age of 22 years old, he was one of the youngest mayors in the United States. He was re-elected to that job by an overwhelming margin in 2002.

Lopez then joined state government as Executive Director of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, an organization essential to developing international policy, and in enhancing the economic power of the Arizona-Sonora region. In recent years, the AMC has been responsible for improvements to Arizona's Ports of Entry, as well as a dramatic increase in cooperation between law enforcement agencies on both sides of the international border.

Most recently, Lopez has continued and expanded that work as the Governor's Senior Policy Advisor for International Affairs.

Dennis, Mike and George have been with me for a very long time, and together, we've accomplished much for Arizona. I will miss them," said Governor Napolitano. "At the same time, I'm thrilled to have talented members of my team take on new jobs. I have absolute confidence that each of them will excel in their new areas."

Although transitions have begun, most of the personnel changes are effective September 15th.


Its natural for a staff to go seek their fortunes in the final few years of a lame duck term. Usually, staff tries to leave when things are looking as bright as possible so they can get jobs elsewhere or feed off the credibility that they have earned by working for a popular elected official. With the initiative fumbling and Napolitano back from the policy setting session for the DNC, do these folks see some writing on the wall?

Did you notice the interesting omission? Read this line again:

"The Governor's Legislative Liaison and Deputy Chief of Staff, Mike Haener, will also move on."

The release was fairly explicit about the other two, but not Haener. Is there a separate announcement on the horizon?

Monday, August 11, 2008


The Governor's Transportation initiative has been disqualified from the ballot. As we reported last week, the plan was in trouble following a miserable validation rate. The Secretary of State reports that the initiative falls 15,000 short of the signatures they needed. Bet the folks from the transportation initiative now feel silly about rejecting the Homebuilders and their 16,000 signatures.

Also mentioned in the article rejecting the signatures is Tom Ziemba, who happens to be one of the Governor's friends that scored very high on Politicker's influence list. Wonder what this type of crushing defeat will do to his influence scale next year.

One would bet that the transportation people will look to sue to try to get their issue on the ballot. Even then, this whole thing does not direct well on the Governor. It smacks of another reason she would consider leaving if Obama wins.

Looks like the State Trust initiative might be the Governor's only hope to salvage this cycle.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Friends of Janet in Trouble

There is a group that has been launched to support several of the Republicans who helped the Governor get her budget passed last time around. The group is paying for commercials and signs to help their candidates. They are even using the Republican symbol to help their cause.

The problem is, the RNC and the Arizona Republican Party have asked them to stop. In fact, they have filed a cease and desist. The Friends of Janet Napolitano's budget that have been mentioned so far are Pete Hershberger and Tom O'Halleran. The same group has also set their sights on Russell Pearce, promoting his opponent Kevin Gibbons.

The Sonoran Alliance have asked for photoshop's of Pete Hershberger's sign that are more accurate to his positions. Here is our favorite so far:

Russell Pearce supporters have followed suit with their own contest. Here is one of the funny ones so far:

Climate Initiative Spending

The Sonoran Alliance has excellent coverage on Governor Napolitano's latest efforts to support the Western Climate Initiative. Yet another publicity campaign ignored by the mainstream media. We believe that its best for all office holders to paste their face on issues with their own money instead of that of the taxpayers.

In the face of a $2 billion dollar financial short fall, this seems like a budget cut that could have been made to save the taxpayers a few more dollars in her budget. Perhaps, if she is so concerned about global warming, she should use her $1.1 million in surplus to fund the campaign instead of putting it on the back of the taxpayers.


Looks like there is even more trouble for Napolitano's TIME initiative. It just clocked in with over a 49% failure rating. This will probably get a little bit better as they go through the list a second time, but its certainly not the gangbusters approval one would hope for an initiative that is supposed to be garnering wide range support. One would assume that is why they will likely sue to make sure that their initiative stays on the ballot. Its going to be a hard case to make when they fall short of the signature count and their support from the community is luke warm at best.

Case in point, the Page City Council was only able to muster up begruding support of the TIME initiative at their last meeting. Rumor is that the initiative is not very friendly to the rural communities and there is a lot of fear about how high their sales taxes can rise. Places like Page are never really going to see the benefit of a billion dollar train thats starts at the border and ends somewhere around Prescott. Its probably hard for them to get motivated to support.