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Political Notebook: McSally, Ducey thank Trump for ventilators; PACs flood Senate race
Political NotebooK

Political Notebook: McSally, Ducey thank Trump for ventilators; PACs flood Senate race

From the April's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: 1,200+ Pima County cases, stay-home order extended series

Gov. Doug Ducey and Sen. Martha McSally want to be sure voters know who deserves thanks, praise and credit for sending Arizona 100 ventilators: Donald Trump.

In online and in-person statements, the GOP senator and governor have praised the president for doling out ventilators to the state. They also, of course, credited each other, and themselves.

In a written statement issued Saturday, Ducey said:

“I want to thank President Trump for his leadership and responsiveness during this pandemic. As Arizona prepares for an anticipated peak of COVID-19 cases, these ventilators will add to our surge capacity and help us prepare in our tribal communities and elsewhere. President Trump and I spoke about this Wednesday night. I’m grateful that he was able to deliver on this request immediately. That’s urgent action and real leadership.”

McSally said via Twitter: “Huge news for Arizona! I spoke with @realDonaldTrump on Wednesday afternoon to request additional ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile. Today, POTUS delivers with 100 ventilators headed to AZ. Thank you to President Trump and @VP for hearing our call.”

Was it good news for Arizona? Sure. But the state had originally asked for 5,000 ventilators. Then the state winnowed that request down to 500, before ending up with 100.

More to the point is a criticism that became widespread last week: Trump appeared to be using ventilators and other medical equipment as a sort of political patronage, specifically as a boost for troubled Republican candidates.

The situation was most evident in Colorado, where Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, said he had made a deal to purchase 500 ventilators, only to have them taken away, apparently by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Days later, Trump awarded Colorado 100 ventilators, but he did so in a tweet crediting the state’s Republican senator, Cory Gardner.

“Will be immediately sending 100 Ventilators to Colorado at the request of Senator Gardner!” Trump tweeted.

Gardner, like McSally, is a Republican U.S. senator in a tough election battle this year.

The Denver Post editorialized: “President Donald Trump is treating life-saving medical equipment as emoluments he can dole out as favors to loyalists. It’s the worst imaginable form of corruption — playing political games with lives. For the good of this nation during what should be a time of unity, he must stop.”

Inscrutable PACs flood campaign

A flood of outside money is expected to pour into the Senate race between Republican incumbent Martha McSally and Democratic challenger Mark Kelly.

So who is supplying all this cash, and what do they want?

Based on the inscrutable names of some of these political action committees, your guess is as good as ours. Together We Thrive? Winning for Women? Indivisible Action? These are just a few of the groups that have donated so far.

“Sometimes (the group’s name) is created to be purposely confusing,” said Brendan Quinn, outreach manager for the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Other times, what seems like a random string of political buzzwords is really an acronym in disguise.

Why else would someone name an anti-McSally super PAC something ridiculous like Middle Class Fighting to Restore Arizona’s Unity and Decency?

Don’t make us spell it out for you.

Senators to aid White House on coronavirus re-openings

Both of Arizona’s senators announced Thursday they will be part of President Trump’s bipartisan task force to provide counsel on the re-opening of the country as a result of the coronavirus.

“I will work with anyone to support Arizona’s state and local leaders, ensure our communities adhere to scientific best practices to address our current health emergency, and provide employers the resources to quickly recover and get Americans back to work once the immediate crisis has passed,” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, said in a statement.

McSally, a Republican, said she’s “confident America and Arizona will recover from this extraordinary time stronger than ever.”

“I’ve been in constant communication with Arizona small business owners, industry leaders, and elected officials to understand the challenges they are facing and develop solutions that will put us in the best possible position to harness economic growth once we have turned the corner on this crisis,” McSally said.

Corp Comm candidates mix of old, new

Six Republicans and three Democrats have filed to run for three open seats on the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, securities, corporations and pipeline and railroad safety in the state.

Whomever wins the election will be faced with mounting public concern over rising utility rates and thorny issues surrounding the ongoing move away from fossil fuels to renewable sources like solar and wind energy.

The candidates for the seats, which carry four-year terms, include Republican commissioner Lea Marquez Peterson of Tucson, a local business owner and former CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who was appointed to the ACC by Gov. Doug Ducey last May to replace Andy Tobin after Tobin was named director of the Arizona Department of Administration. It also includes Boyd Dunn of Chandler, a retired Superior Court judge and former mayor of Chandler, in the last year of his first term on the commission.

Among the non-incumbents, both Bill Mundell, a Paradise Valley Democrat attorney and former legislator and commission member; and Eric Sloan, a Scottsdale Republican and partner in a public-affairs firm and political activist; ran for the ACC in 2018 and lost in the primary.

The others are David Farnsworth, a Mesa Republican state senator since 2013; Nick Myers, a Queen Creek Republican small-business owner, Kim Owens, an Avondale Republican public-relations executive and GOP activist; Shea Stanfield, a Cave Creek Democrat, retired teacher and former Cave Creek town council member; and Tolleson Mayor Anna Tovar, a Democratic former legislator. 

Democratic former commissioner Sandra Kennedy topped the 2018 primary and returned to office to became the first Democrat to sit on the panel since 2013 and one of only two Democrats to serve since 1999.

Grijalva to Address Navajo nation outbreak at roundtable Friday

As confirmed cases and deaths of COVID-19 continue to climb on the Navajo Nation, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, will host a roundtable Friday, April 17, including nation President Jonathan Nez to discuss the federal government’s response in Indian country.

The Navajo nation, which includes portions in northeastern Arizona, announced Tuesday that it’s extending its 57-hour weekend curfews over the next three weeks after reporting 838 known COVID-19 cases and 33 deaths.

Grijalva, who has pushed for more aid on Indian land, including sending a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will host the roundtable with Nez; Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Michael Chavarria, governor of the Pueblo of Santa Clara, New Mexico; Jerilyn Church, chief executive officer of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board; and Diana Zirul, vice chairwoman of the Alaska Native Health Board.

It begins at 10 a.m. local time and will be broadcast on YouTube at youtu.be/a3smVe4dF5c and Facebook at bit.ly/34z1qsg.

Tim Steller

Henry Brean

Justin Sayers

Dave Wichner

Justin Sayers

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