#1: Judge allows near-total abortion ban to take effect
A Pima County judge ruled that a 19th century near-total ban on abortions can go into effect in Arizona.
The 158-year-old Arizona law states that abortion providers could serve between two to five years in prison. It had previously been blocked by a court injunction after the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, but Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson has now ruled that the basis for the injuction no longer stands in the wake of Roe’s overturn earlier this summer.
The ruling will most likely be appealed. In the meantime, Arizonans who stand for reproductive freedom are focusing their efforts on races for such offices as County Attorney, which can determine whether violations of abortion bans are prosecuted locally.
We invited all candidates for Maricopa County attorney to a candidate forum on 9/7. Democratic candidate Julie Gunnigle was the only one willing to talk. Watch here.
#2: Conspiracy theories at center of race for Secretary of State
Secretary of State candidates Mark Finchem (R) and Adrian Fontes (D) took to the air in a highly charged debate yesterday, with the former making waves for denying the 2020 election outcome and calling for voting restrictions based on the “Big Lie.”
Finchem advocated for eliminating vote-by-mail, among other voting restrictions, and doubled-down on the myth that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.
Ironically, Finchem couldn’t couldn’t explain why his primary win was legitimate but the rest of the 2020 election wasn’t.
Finchem also revealed during Thursday’s debate that he has been interviewed by the Justice Department and Jan. 6 committee about his alleged involvement in the Capitol insurrection. (Finchem is a member of the Christian nationalist Oath Keepers, whose leader and others have been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the riot.)
This comes shortly after Finchem published series of tweets pushing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, such as the idea that Democratic candidates are beholden to Jewish philanthropist George Soros and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
The Secretary of State race is important because under Arizona law, the Secretary is one of three officials who must certify statewide election results. Arizona is one of a handful of critical swing states that could determine the outcome of the next presidential election. The Secretary of State also issues an election rulebook on voting policies and procedures that carries the weight of law.
Also: if Finchem wins, he would be first in the line of succession if the Arizona governor were to resign or die in office.
We’ve invited both candidates to a forum on 10/12 at 6pm. Register here.
#3: School voucher opponents report obtaining enough signatures to put expansion on the ballot
Opponents of universal school vouchers reported turning in 141,714 signatures last Friday to turn the matter over to voters.
While this matter would not appear on the ballot until 2024, secular education is still a hot issue in several critical midterm races.
Each Arizona candidate for Governor has plans impacting more than 1.1 million children in public schools. Candidate Katie Hobbs (D) revealed in a debate this week that she wants public charter school boards to be subject to laws governing public records requests and open meetings, like all other public schools. Meanwhile, Christian nationalist opponent Kari Lake (R)—a universal voucher supporter—called for editing the state’s Parents Bill of Rights to ban instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students K-3.
Meanwhile, in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne (R) and Kathy Hoffman (D) jousted last week over vouchers and services for LGBTQ+ youth.
“I do not believe that anyone should be profiting off of our […] public education tax dollars,” Hoffman said. “We really need to prioritize fully funding our public education system.”
Horne defended vouchers while simultaneously admitting in an interview after the debate that poor families ostensibly helped by vouchers still wouldn’t be able to afford to use private or religious schools, even with vouchers in hand.
Horne also called for the removal of a resource on the Superintendent’s website offering support to LGBTQ+ youth, espousing religious right talking points about “parental rights” to monitoring the behavior of closeted or questioning kids.
Catch our candidate forum for Superintendent of Public Instruction this Wednesday here.
Formerly mundane races for offices like Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and County Attorney may dramatically reshape our state government if Christian nationalist candidates win. Voting down ballot will be critical to those whose top issues include secular public education, reproductive freedom, and an election system responsive to the will of the people.