The Arizona Capitol Times recently reported the same people behind the failed jungle primary initiative in 2012 plan on taking another run at it in 2016. Only this time jungle primary supporters intend to team up with another group of liberals pushing an aggressive regulatory agenda designed to relieve Arizonans of our free speech rights—all under the guise of eliminating so-called dark money.
What is perhaps most striking about the jungle primary/anti-dark money supporters is their disdain and disrespect for Arizona voters. This has manifested itself in a variety of ways already, and it’s not even 2016. Consider:
1. The jungle primary/anti-dark money team is using a dark money device in order to avoid campaign finance laws. The hypocrisy of a group dedicated to forcing others to adhere to onerous campaign finance regulations, all while refusing to disclose its funding sources, is stunning.
2. Arizona voters have made it loud and clear that they don’t want this type of California-style “reform.” The jungle primary proposal is an import from California that we wisely rejected by a whopping 2 to 1 margin in 2012. Yet here are the jungle primary supporters, fewer than three years later, telling the people of Arizona that we got it wrong. No we didn’t. People here have seen what a disaster this thing has been in California and have no desire to replicate it here.
3. The supporters pushing this initiative are losing candidates who have proven incapable of winning elections in Arizona. Paul Johnson and Terry Goddard, the two people behind the jungle primary and the attack on free speech, have a combined staggering six losses in statewide races.
When politicians lose races, it is easy to make excuses and complain. It is apparently tougher to take a hard look at oneself. Has it ever occurred to these people that the reason they keep losing is that they are simply far too liberal for Arizona voters? Of course not. Paul Johnson lost his most recent run for governor by a 61-35 margin. Please don’t believe his claims that the primary elections system makes it hard for “moderates” like him to win—he’s about as “moderate” as his liberal comrade Bernie Sanders. And that’s the real reason he keeps losing, whether he is running as a candidate or pushing some harebrained electoral scheme.
The reality is that the jungle primary is simply a way for losing candidates to try to put their thumb on the scale of the Arizona election system so they might have a better chance of winning. The impending marriage with the anti-dark money forces is an awkward one to say the least, as the two have nothing to do with each other. Though the jungle primary supporters crow that it makes their measure stronger, it looks more like an act of desperation to revive a discredited measure that failed so badly a mere three years ago.
Arizonans don’t want a jungle primary, and they don’t want a whole series of new regulations brought to you by the same people who don’t want to follow the laws we have now. This Frankenstein of a ballot measure will meet the same fate it did in 2012, which is good news for our state.
-Robert Graham is Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party