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Steller's Friday Notebook: Arizona voters reject Glassman again, from new angle

Steller's Friday Notebook: Arizona voters reject Glassman again, from new angle

Tim Steller

Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller

Now, former Tucson City Council member Rodney Glassman can claim a truly unusual distinction: He’s lost a statewide election as a Democrat and a Republican.

Glassman conceded Thursday in his race for the Arizona Corporation Commission. In an email, he acknowledged that Democrat Sandra Kennedy and Republican Justin Olson would be the top vote-getters, edging him out of the race for two seats on the five-member commission.

“It is amazing to come so far, garner nearly a million votes, and lose by just a few thousand, but it looks like that will be our story here in 2018,” Glassman wrote.

Glassman was a Democrat when he came of age in Tucson politics, working for U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva before he ran for City Council. As a Dem, he ran against Republican John McCain for U.S. Senate in 2010 and was clobbered.

This year, Glassman had a big financial advantage. He raised $811,084, though he had to spend some of it winning the Republican primary. That compared to fellow Republican Olson’s relatively paltry $80,768.

Glassman also had the support of much of the GOP power structure. His campaign chairman was Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Kennedy and fellow Democratic candidate Kiana Sears ran as clean elections candidates, which earned them each about $271,500 in state funding. They also benefited from a late infusion of outside spending. Chispa AZ, a political action committee, spent $4.2 million on behalf of the two Democrats.

“I am proud of how close we came without any help from utilities or out-of-state billionaires,” Glassman said in his statement. “While it isn’t fun to be outspent by more than $3 Million from the likes of Tom Steyer, we came remarkably close to overcoming it.”

Republicans have been accusing Steyer, a California billionaire, of being behind the donations to the League of Conservation Voters, which gave the money to Chispa that they spent on behalf of Sears and Kennedy. But Laura Dent, the director of Chispa, said Steyer is not the source.

In any case, that does not explain why Glassman lost to Olson, who sits on the commission now but was appointed to fill a vacant seat, not previously elected.

But it didn’t help Glassman that he ran as a Democrat in 2010, a Republican wave year, and as a Republican in 2018, a Democratic wave year.

Sinema OKs Schumer

Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema raised eyebrows with her first vote after beating Rep. Martha McSally. She voted for, or at least did not vote against, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York as Senate minority leader.

During the campaign, Sinema had said she would vote against Schumer if she won election. It wasn’t a hedged commitment, either. She said: “I am not going to vote for him.”

On Wednesday, she explained by saying there was no opposition.

“Arizonans know I will work with anyone — in either party — to get things done for our state,” she wrote in a statement. “It’s time for a new approach on both sides of the aisle and I look forward to working with my colleagues to cut through the dysfunction and deliver results for Arizona. Had there been a challenger for Minority Leader, I would have considered new leadership and a fresh perspective. I will continue to put Arizona over party.”

Grijalva for Pelosi

On the House side, one person who is definitely voting for Nancy Pelosi for House speaker is newly elected Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. She had signaled her alliance with Pelosi long before, and especially when the minority leader came to town to support Kirkpatrick just before the election.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran was one of nine Democrats who wrote Pelosi a letter this week asking for a commitment to streamline the passage of bills and amendments that have broad bipartisan support.

Rep. Grijalva may be the surprise of the bunch. Though he is co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, whose members are reticent to support Pelosi, Grijalva says he will support her. He is likey to benefit from her speakership — he is in line to become chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Marquez Peterson moves on

Lea Marquez Peterson has decided she won’t be returning to the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce after her loss in the race for the U.S. House in Congressional District 2.

Marquez Peterson took a leave from the post she had occupied for 10 years to run first for the Republican nomination, then in the general election against Kirkpatrick. Having lost that race, Marquez Peterson said she’s going to be looking to do something new.

She noted that the board of the chamber hired Lydia Aranda as interim president, and, Marquez Peterson said, “My hope is she’ll take the position permanently.”

Citizenship suits filed

The same Cochise County woman who filed a lawsuit questioning the citizenship of newly elected legislator Raquel Teran in Phoenix also filed three similar suits in Tucson’s federal court. Alice Novoa sued Grijalva, his Republican opponent Nick Pierson, and Marquez Peterson, alleging that in each case they are not actually citizens.

These are, of course, a waste of time. Novoa’s suit against Teran was thrown out this week, and undoubtedly the suits against these three also will be tossed shortly.

Contact: or 807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter

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