Arizona Democrats have had to relearn what power means considering how long they had been relegated to an afterthought in Arizona politics. Since they are in a one vote minority in both the state House of Representatives and state Senate, the most powerful tool in Hobbs’s arsenal has been her veto pen, as we have covered here.
One would assume that using that veto pen early and often (a record setting amount of times, actually) would serve to only tick off the opposition party, but it looks like Governor Hobbs has stepped into a significant cultural hornet’s nest with her own party, and the sheen of being a new Governor may already been wearing off a bit…all over tamales.
Governor Hobbs recently vetoed a bill that would have legalized the making of more homemade foods. While it would have covered numerous types of food, that veto has gained the most ire because of the impact on the tamale market. Anyone who is at all familiar with Latino culture is aware that tamales play an important role in their food lives. They are often made as a family event, are an important part of many gatherings, and are routinely sold anywhere from roadside to political fundraisers. It’s not a stretch to say that they are to Latino food culture as turkey is to Thanksgiving.
This bill was truly bipartisan, bringing together a strong cultural aspect to many Democrats and a desire for less government interference on the Republican side. While it passed 45-11 the first time around, enough to override the veto, a dozen Democrats changed their vote the second time and they were not able to override the veto. Why would they do this? Presumably because of significant pressure from the Governor out of a desire to not be embarrassed by her caucus.
And now, we see the increasing complexities of this newfound power that the Democrats have: it is imbalanced to one side, the side of Governor Hobbs. But at the same time, the ability to simply issue vetoes also has its limitations; along with more obvious ones of being unlikely to get favored bills passed, there is a very real possibility that true bipartisanship (i.e. the thing that we all hope for) will be bludgeoned away because of the wishes of one person.
It’s safe to say that the honeymoon is now over. Hobbs cannot veto her way to success, but she can veto her way into making enemies with those in her own caucus. While she organized enough opposition to charges of anti-black racism against her after the Talonya Adams lawsuit fiasco, she now has to worry about charges of anti-Latino insensitivity and tone-deafness.
She will need to learn how to say Yes instead of simply saying No before she makes even more quiet and loud enemies.