Tag Archives: midterm elections

Arizona Flag

Arizona Politics 2010: The Year That Was SB 1070

It’s the start of 2011. This is usually when everyone writes top 10 lists for the year just past. I was going to write a “top 10 political stories of 2010 column,” when it occurred to me that was the year of one main significant political story.

Oh, there were plenty of important political happenings. President Obama and the Democrats were crushed nationally in the midterm elections. Arizona said goodbye to Congressman John Shadegg, Congressman Harry Mitchell, and Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, and hello to newly elected Congressmen Paul Gosar, Ben Quayle and David Schweikert.

Our state struggled to balance the budget, and almost every city in Arizona made major cuts in order to balance theirs. Gov. Jan. Brewer’s re-election faced an early challenge from within her own party. During the general election campaign she froze in a televised debate and didn’t seem to offer any tangible evidence of headless bodies in the desert. Then of course she sailed to an easy victory at the polls.

Voters even decided that marijuana should be legal in Arizona (as medicine that is).

None of these other stories came anywhere close to being as significant as the firestorm created by the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, more commonly known by its Senate bill number, SB 1070. At one point in the 2010 legislative session, SB 1070 seemed to lack support and was close to being dead. Then tragically, on March 27, southeastern Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was found shot to death alongside of his dog. His ranch sits 12 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border. SB 1070 found new life and was signed into law on April 23.  Suddenly the nation was abuzz about Arizona. It even became a headline internationally.

Those first few weeks were a little surreal. Almost daily, you could find our local elected officials on national talk shows speaking out in favor or against it. Supporters justified that action was needed to deal with illegal immigration, an issue the federal government was ignoring. Opponents claimed SB 1070 would violate civil rights and lead to racial profiling.

SB 1070 was a little vague, so on April 30, HB 2162 was passed to amend and clarify it.

A boycott was called against Arizona and numerous lawsuits were filed, including one by the U. S. Department of Justice. The day before SB 1070 was to go into effect, a federal judge issued an injunction against a portion of the law that effectively killed it.

You might think that this is where the SB 1070 story ends, but it doesn’t — and that is what makes it such a huge event. Although nationally, numerous jurisdictions and high-profile people were passionate in their opposition, polling showed that it was more popular with the masses. A number of states are discussing similar legislation for 2011.

In the New Year, Russell Pearce, the Arizona Senate president and major sponsor of SB 1070, is continuing to focus on the same issue. With the start of the next Arizona Legislative session, he intends to take on the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment dealing with citizenship being granted to anyone born in the U.S. He is trying to prevent illegal immigrants from getting citizenship for their children by fleeing to America and having a baby on U.S. soil.

Although SB 1070 didn’t get enacted, it did serve part of the purpose it supporters intended. Illegal immigrants now recognize Arizona as the least friendly state to homestead in.

I still believe that SB 1070 would not have really fixed the problems it was intended to fix. However, it was successful in driving a complicated issue into the mainstream of discussion on the national level.

Polling Station

AZ 2010 Midterm Election Analysis

The best day to be the President of the United States has got to be Inauguration Day. You take the oath of office. You give a speech that the whole world stops to listen to and it is guaranteed to be recorded in history the moment you give it. It is all processionals, parties, and smiles. The next day you start working on your agenda, and two years later you face midterm elections.

Midterms are probably the worst day for a president!

It looks like the Democrats will end up losing more than 60 seats in the U.S. House and at least 6 in the Senate. Republicans now take control of the House, and while not gaining a majority in the Senate, they have a more workable margin.

While the economy seems to be the leading reason for voter discontent, it is more than a coincidence that 1994 and 2010 were both Democratic midterm disasters preceded by new Democratic Presidents (Clinton and Obama) that tried to radically reform health care with a national model. (The equivalent for Republican’s would have to be reforming Social Security. Regan tried that and had a 1982 midterm that saw the Senate handed back to the Democrats.)

While slow economic progress is blamed for the large losses to Democrats on the national level, it is a different story in Arizona. Republicans have been in control here for quite awhile. Besides Janet Napolitano’s time as Governor, Republican’s have controlled just about everything else. Arizona is facing a horrible economy with a massive budget deficit, and yet, voters rewarded the Republicans with gains in both legislative bodies, which they had already controlled. The Arizona Senate went from an 18-12 Republican majority to 21-9. In the Arizona House, the Republicans held 35 out of the 60 seats before this election. They have added at least 2 seats to their majority with 3 other seats leaning in their favor. They could get to 40 seats. That is a 2/3 majority, like the Senate now has.

It also appears that Republican’s will win all of the major Arizona statewide offices. Governor Brewer was reelected just months after she looked vulnerable in her own primary. She also had a terrible debate. (Told you the debate wouldn’t matter!)

As for Arizona’s initiatives, again a conservative voter attitude seemed to prevail. Voters said yes to a proposition that prohibits reforms in the President’s healthcare plan (106), yes to eliminating affirmative action programs (107), and yes to secret ballots being mandatory for union organizing (113).

Everything else voters said no to. This included changing rules regarding wildlife management and hunting (109), medical marijuana (203), and major changes in the state’s political process. This includes no to state land reform(110), no to a Lieutenant Governor (111), no to changing the amount of time to verify initiative petition signatures (112), and no to using funds voters already designated to a specific purpose in past elections (301 & 302). Remember Nancy Regan’s slogan; “just say no.”

Some of these proposition results aren’t final. For election results visit AZNow.Biz’s results post.

What to watch for in the coming two years:

President Obama will need to move more to the center to meet Republicans who now have a large say in policy. If he becomes a better diplomat between the parties watch his agenda move better. If not, look for a stalemate.

In Arizona, Republicans should be able to do anything they want. This may not happen. Arizona still has huge financial woes. If Republicans can’t get on the same page, inner-party conflict will become ugly. The big question is how well our Republican Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate President get along. If they can’t work together and coordinate their agendas, they won’t be able to blame Democrats for being the problem.

The biggest part of this disaster for the Democrats may be the impact it has on redistricting. After the 2010 Census is complete, they will draw new district lines. Controlling this process gives a huge advantage to the party in power.

Midterm elections

Midterm Elections Are Never Fun For A President

Every four years, the United States of America has a presidential election. More Americans turn out and participate in the presidential elections than the lesser recognized midterm elections. The midterm elections occur in the two-year gaps between the presidential elections. In many ways, these midterms are just as important.

While presidents get four-year terms, all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives serve only two-year terms. The 100 U.S. Senators serve six-year terms and are staggered, with 33 or 34 being up for election every two years. This means that every midterm election the entire House and a third of the Senate are up for election.

Midterm elections are quite often referendums on the incumbent president, and they are seldom kind. In the last 16 midterm elections since Harry Truman, the incumbent party of the president has lost an average of 24 seats in the House and four in the Senate. In the modern era, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both two-term presidents, had a good and bad midterm.  Clinton’s disastrous first midterm in 1994, following his attempt at universal health care, is sometimes referred to as the “Republican Revolution.” Democrats lost 54 House seats and eight Senate seats. Clinton bounced back in 1998, gaining five House seats and not losing any in the Senate. Bush did it the opposite way. He had a great first midterm in 2002, on the heels of 9/11, the War on Terror, and the Iraqi War, picking up eight in the House and two in the Senate. In 2006, Democrats regained the House, picking up 30 seats and gaining six in the Senate.

So what does this history mean to us? On Nov. 2, 2010 we have a midterm election that will be a referendum on President Barack Obama. How will he fare? Current expectations are that Obama’s party will lose seats in both bodies of Congress. Some analysts are predicting that the Democrats may lose as many as 30 to 40 seats in the House. This is significant, because they hold a 75-seat advantage. Losing 38 seats means losing the majority. In the Senate, Democrats look to be losing at least four seats, with another five as toss-ups. If they all got to Republicans, the Senate would be at a 50-50 deadlock. Don’t expect all of those seats to go to Republicans.

Our Founding Fathers structured a system of government that contains checks and balances. While they may not have necessarily designed this two-party system, it does appear to provide accountability. When a president wins an election, he has two years to set his agenda and begin to show progress. He faces the consequences of his actions — and the nation’s mood — at the midterm elections. If the country is happy, he might maintain the same congressional support, with voters keeping his party in power. If the country isn’t happy, they might keep fewer of the president’s party in office, thus moderating what he is trying to accomplish.

Even if Republicans don’t take back either body, slimmer Democratic majorities would seem to mean more difficulty for President Obama. Or will they? My belief is that when a president has a large majority he has little incentive to be diplomatic with the opposite party. When he has fewer of his own party in Congress to work with, he then has to reach across the aisle more often and be more of a statesman.

Midterms can be a humbling experience for a president, but they can also be how Americans moderate our federal government.