When do the primaries begin?

Campaigns pick a fight with Arizona sign law

2014-06-17T17:00:00Z 2014-08-05T16:13:49Z Campaigns pick a fight with Arizona sign lawBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Let’s call it election-sign creep.

Similar to Christmas trees being displayed at Halloween, a new holiday is emerging every election cycle as campaigns push the limits of state laws governing campaign signs by putting them out earlier and earlier.

A total of four campaigns — all Republican — have run into trouble with local municipalities that argue no signs should be popping up along local roads for another week.

Some are cooperative while others are combative.

Melissa DeLaney, a spokeswoman for Doug Ducey’s gubernatorial campaign, said the campaign is cooperating with requests from the city of Tucson to take down a number of large signs put up over the weekend in midtown.

“The Ducey campaign seeks to comply with all laws and regulations. We have removed our signs for the time being,” DeLaney said.

Congressional District 1 candidate Adam Kwasman was less cooperative, arguing with Pima County over its interpretation of state law.

State law allows campaign signs to go up 60 days before a primary election, but Kwasman wants to start the clock two weeks early — when early ballots are sent out in the mail.

State Rep. Ethan Orr made a similar argument after his re-election signs drew complaints.

“I think it comes down to your interpretation of the law. If you believe the election starts when people start voting, my signs are perfectly legal. If you believe the election is on the election day, then they aren’t,” Orr said last week.

Kwasman adds that he also believes the underlying state law is a violation of his First Amendment rights. He says his blue and white signs are protected political speech.

The Smith for Governor campaign signs also caught the attention of Pima County officials, who are asking the Republican gubernatorial campaign to take down the signs.

Drew Sexton, spokesman for Scott Smith, said the campaign has been careful to put signs up only on private property but will work with officials on any complaints.

We have made sure to post our campaign signs on private property and remain within any sign code requirements. We are currently working with Pima County to clear up any confusion about where our signs have been placed.”

Priscilla Cornelio, the director of the Pima County Department of Transportation, said she has reached out to the Ducey, Smith, Orr and Kwasman campaigns about some of their signs.

Typically, the county gives each campaign a day before DOT staffers will remove the illegal signs.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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