Political Potpourri & Tea Leaves

*It hasn’t received much attention locally, yet, but a poll conducted on the David Schweikert- Hiral Tipirneni congressional race recently shows the incumbent clinging to just a two-point lead, underscoring the specific challenge Schweikert is facing this year but also the head winds suburban Republican office holders are facing in general.  This race reminds us a lot of the J.D. Hayworth-Harry Mitchell face-off, in a similar district, over a decade ago.

*The top three Scottsdale City Council candidates faring best right now are John Little, Betty Janik and Tammy Caputi.  It is a slight reshuffling from the August primary results.  Councilman Guy Phillips has regained some footing after his “I Can’t Breathe” fracas pre-primary but remains challenged by the still significant animus to his candidacy.

*There are legitimate arguments on both sides of the Proposition 207 issue to legalize marijuana. But support appears to remain strong based on internal polling released this week by the campaign.  Opponents, knowing this, have undertaken what most any observer would call a very dishonest campaign raising what can generously be called red herrings about a plan that has made substantial improvements since its narrow defeat in 2016.  Prediction:  solid win for Prop. 207.

*While increased education funding has received a lot of media headlines in recent years a proposed solution, Proposition 208, will almost certainly have profoundly negative economic consequences for Arizona if it passes.  Those arguments are longer and harder to make than the sound bites for education.  But they are real.  And doubling the state income tax for top producers and small businesses will be a decision state leaders will have to deal with, and regret, for many years to come. 

*Former Scottsdale City Councilwoman Lisa Borowsky has surprised more than not in her runs for office.  Yes, she lost a congressional race but her come from behind win against an incumbent to win her inaugural race for Scottsdale City Council was impressive.  So was her showing in the August primary for Scottsdale Mayor where she finished a close second to Dave Ortega.  Ortega has two things going for him. To date he has run a smart and effective campaign.  He’s also benefitting from not just Democratic enthusiasm but the abandonment of Republicans in Scottsdale to Democrats this year.  In a normal or “Republican” year Ortega would be swamped.  But not this time so far.  Despite a platform that can be seen as anti-business, Ortega is in a strong position even though this fault line proved fatal for Bob Littlefield in the 2016 Mayor’s race and is not where the electorate is at today either.  As in 2004 during his unsuccessful run against Mary Manross, Ortega remains strong in the south and very popular among Democrats.  Borowsky needs to consolidate more Republicans but if she remains too focused on that mission, and doesn’t dig into pockets to outspend Ortega, she could come up short.  That could also be the case if new issues are not introduced such as Ortega’s vote for the Scottsdale Waterfront towers then taking away the rights of upset citizens about that vote via an “emergency” clause.  Such an extreme position is usually reserved for things like – pandemics.  Ortega can persuasively say he made up for that questionable decision with his involvement opposing Southbridge 2.  Yet, it’s a liability.   Manross prevailed in 2004 by running up the score in the north, largely because of Ortega’s opposition to a key McDowell Sonoran Preserve issue that year.  Ortega is doing his best to mitigate this past position.  If he does, he may claw back enough votes from the northern part of the city to succeed.  The race is close but, as discussed above, this is not the year that just being Republican will be good enough in Scottsdale.