By Alexander Lomax
Statewide races in Arizona are starting to get hot and heavy on both sides of the aisle. Many consultants have been waiting for the chess pieces to move on the board, and they got a few big moves recently; after Katie Hobbs announced for Governor, former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes formally announced his run to succeed her as Secretary of State the next day. Not to be outdone, current House Minority Leader Reggie Bolding jumped into that same race by the end of the week.
Bolding has been one of the leading voices against the recent voting bill signed by Gov. Ducey which took the “Permanent” out of the Permanent Early Voter List, part of Republican efforts around the country to make voting more difficult for many registered voters. Voters who decided to take an election off will find that they need to jump through hoops to receive a ballot; it seems to be a punishment for taking a midterm election off, which is a significant portion of the populace regardless of party registration.
On a side note, the AZ GOP seems to be doing its best to elevate Democrats to prominence and puffing up their chances of winning statewide office. The audit disaster makes me wonder if Karen Fann is making side bets on Hobbs being our next Governor, and this bill gives a Democrat who otherwise has had no hands-on experience with elections a strong talking point for an elections-focused seat.
Regardless, it will be a tough road for Bolding. The elected office which most mirrors the duties of SOS would be the Maricopa County Recorder, which Fontes was until this January. QAnon cultists aside, there are no questions from reasonable people as to the integrity with which he ran the office. He lost his seat after all (and if you’re going to rig an election, you would assume you would start with your own first) and bowed out with grace after the fact. But whereas Fontes has not been a very proficient fundraiser, Bolding now has the experience of a House Minority Leader on his side, with access to all sorts of organizations with which to call on for funding.
However it does feel like a relative embarrassment of riches; a decade ago, asking a Democrat to run for a statewide office was akin to asking them to run into a buzzsaw with a smile on their face. Now the path to victories is clear. These days Democratic voters around the states have GOOD options. And that is a positive for Democrats and democracy, if less so for the GOP.