Arizona Public Media
AZPM on Facebook AZPM on Twitter AZPM on YouTube AZPM on Google+ AZPM on Instagram

Political Buzz – June 2011


State Senators Al Melvin and Frank Antenori said during an interview today there's no rift between Legislative Republicans and the party's top elected official, Gov. Jan Brewer.

The question came up during an interview about the party's failure to extend unemployment benefits this week during a special legislative session. Brewer asked them to make the change, but they ended the two-day session without passing an extension. This followed a regular session in which she vetoed some of the party's high-profile bills.

Why, then, aren't the Legislature and the governor on the same page? Any rift, the senators said, is between Republican legislators and the governor's staff, not her personally.

Watch the full interview about the special session tonight on Arizona Illustrated, KUAT channel 6, or online.


Maricopa County elections officials have verified as valid more than enough signatures on petitions to trigger a recall election for Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, the Arizona Capitol Times reports.

Elections officials said more than 8,239 signatures collected by Citizens for a Better Arizona have been validated; the group needed 7,756 valid signatures to trigger the recall. Another 3,500 or so signatures must be checked.

The recall election against Pearce, a most willing lightning rod and protagonist for conservative Republicans leading the state Legislature, could occur as early as this November.

His district is in a heavily Republican part of Mesa.


Read a good rundown from the Arizona Capitol Times' Caitlin Coakley here on the potential appearance of cracks in what has been a pretty solid wall of Republican majority rule in Arizona state government.

The vitriol between Democrats and Republicans in the Arizona Senate last week at the opening of the special session on extending unemployment benefits was but a sideshow to that perhaps bigger issue: that GOP legislators aren't all in lock step.

It showed when GOP Gov. Jan Brewer called the special session despite several of her party's legislative leaders saying they opposed the benefits extension.

It came clear into the open when both houses of the Legislature recessed quickly Friday without taking any action on the governor's proposal. That's despite Brewer's claim that she went into it thinking she had the votes needed for passage and that she specifically had a deal with Senate President Russell Pearce.

What happens today -- and perhaps continuing this week -- when the Legislature reconvenes will be of high interest in relation to governance of the state.


According to a study in The Chronicle of Higher Education 34% of Arizona’s elected lawmakers have a Bachelor’s degree while only 16% of all Arizona residents have a Bachelor’s degree. According to the survey 16% of the Legislature has no college, 41% of Arizona residents never went to college.

The survey also shows that 45% of the Legislature attended a college or university in Arizona. Not surprisingly, most who did go to school in the state went to either ASU or UA.

When compared with legislative bodies across the country Arizona lawmakers are slightly less educated than other groups of state lawmakers. The survey shows that 27% of the Arizona lawmakers have either no college or did not earn a degree. Nationally, that number stands at 17%.


State Senate President Russell Pearce (R-Mesa) wants Attorney General Tom Horne (R) to issue a legal opinion on whether or not political action committees involved in recalls can accept corporate contributions.

The request comes as a group is waiting to find out officially if they have enough petition signatures to force a recall of Pearce. Earlier this month, the head of the Arizona Division of Elections wrote that corporations are barred from influencing elections.

Attorney General Horne issued a statement telling Pearce the opinion will come within 30 days and politics will not drive the opinion.

Text of Horne Statement on Ruling Request

“Like all formal opinion requests, this will be assigned to the Solicitor General’s Office, under the leadership of Solicitor General David R. Cole. The Solicitor General’s Office will analyze this question under the law, without regard to politics. A letter will be issued based on the analysis of the Solicitor General’s Office, without permitting politics to enter into the process at any point. The public expects these kinds of questions to be answered on a purely legal basis, without intrusion of politics, and that is what we will do.”


During the opening minutes of the Legislature’s special session to deal with unemployment benefits State Senator David Schapira (D-Tempe) introduced a bill to keep state lawmakers from receiving per diem during the special session.

Senator Schapira reasoned that if the Legislature is going to talk about cutting the benefits of thousands of Arizona residents then they should not get per diem. The proposal is co-sponsored by five other Democrats including Senator Paula Aboud (D-Tucson) and Senator Olivia Cajero-Bedford (D-Tucson).

Senator Schapira said if the Legislature gives up per diem that could save the state $4 thousand a day.

About Political Buzz

News, commentary, analysis from the AZPM political team: Christopher Conover, Andrea Kelly, Michael Chihak.