Perhaps it is obvious, but it is something that had been easy to forget for years in Arizona…things are a lot easier for a governor when they have a friendly legislature that will push forward (or at least not oppose) their agenda. Governor Katie Hobbs is finding out what can happen with an unfriendly legislature and is running into perhaps an unprecedented amount of obstruction.
Governor Hobbs has run straight into an obstructionist buzzsaw that is State Senator Jake Hoffman. Hoffman, who was banned by social media platforms for operating a troll farm, has turned into a more literal troll, being a consistent thorn in the side of her and her directorship appointees. Between strongly challenging them or outright blocking them from having a hearing, and then creating a brand new committee purely to sow additional doubt in Hobbs’s nominees.
After plenty of public bickering and attacks, as well as a successful attempt by Hoffman and the Senate Republicans to wait out the clock and block appointees until past Sine Die (the last day of the legislative session), it seems as though Governor Hobbs has finally capitulated; she has withdrawn all of the remaining appointees that have not had a Senate hearing.
So what’s next? A little bit of wizardry, almost certainly the brainchild of her Chief of Staff Chad Campbell: just create new positions. While directorships need Senate confirmation, apparently invented positions such as “executive deputy directors” do not, so Hobbs will instead name all of those nominees as executive deputy directors. A little end around, around political machinations and towards presumed competence in the executive branch. After a wait that was entirely too long, it looks as though the affected departments will finally get leadership.
Is that ideal? Absolutely not. While some political gamesmanship is expected in our halls of power, the obstructionism led by Hoffman seems to be the purpose; it seems less about properly vetting candidates and objecting to bad ones, and more about political gotcha-ism. The fact that hearings were never even set for these candidates, 13 in total, further underscores that point.
Much like when politicians at our national level seem to unnecessarily create a debt-ceiling “crisis” every once in a while, what is happening at the Capitol seems to be an entirely unnecessary crisis. Senator Hoffman has already shown himself to be capable of being a bad actor in the troll farm scandal, and seems to be doing so again, and this time the consequences impact all of us. For the sake of the next three years of Hobbs as Governor, we hope that they figure out a way to work together.