A look at Arizona election winners, losers

Bob Christie, Associated Press//November 14, 2016//

A look at Arizona election winners, losers

Bob Christie, Associated Press//November 14, 2016//

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Election Day in Arizona saw Republicans winning the presidential vote despite Democratic efforts to tap into the state’s growing demographic shift, a GOP sweep of statewide utility regulator races, and a sturdy defense of a swing congressional district in southern Arizona. But Democrats did have their victories, chipping away at the red state wall that they’ve been trying to break through for the past two decades.

Here’s a look at winners and losers from Tuesday’s election.


REPUBLICAN INSIDERS — Trump’s victory is a potential national bonanza for Arizona political insiders who signed on early to back the businessman’s run for president. At the top of the watch list is state Treasurer Jeff DeWit, who volunteered as the Trump campaign’s Arizona chairman and later became his national campaign’s chief operating officer. DeWit’s ascension to a post in the Trump administration is seen as a likely reward for his dedication. Former Gov. Jan Brewer has a role in the Trump transition as a policy adviser, while Arizona House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham has handled media events for Trump since last year and full-time since the Legislature adjourned in early May. She’s likely to also get a lower-level post.

REPUBLICAN LEADERS — Arizona Republican Party chairman Robert Graham has been maneuvering for months to replace Reince Priebus as head of the Republican National Committee if Priebus leaves his post. Priebus emerged Thursday as a candidate for chief of staff in the Trump administration. Graham said in a Wednesday interview that his vocal support for Trump could set the stage for the top GOP job if Priebus leaves.

ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE — The state’s largest electric utility opened its corporate coffers to help elect three Republicans to the agency that regulates utilities, and it paid off. The nearly $4 million in spending was intended to counter rooftop solar company SolarCity’s support for candidates to the Arizona Corporation Commission. A SolarCity-backed group spent nearly $2.4 million backing a Democrat and one of the winning Republicans, Bob Burns. Burns was in the odd position of benefiting from both sides — APS considered him friendlier than the Democrats even though he’s battled APS to disclose suspected undisclosed political spending in the 2014 commission election.

AVERAGE WORKERS — Pay for Arizona’s low-wage workers will increase to $10 an hour in January and to $12 in 2020 after voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 206. The measure also requires small businesses to provide three paid sick days per year and larger businesses five days. Flagstaff workers will see wages go to $15 by 2021 under a measure approved by city voters.



SHERIFF JOE — Longtime Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was decisively defeated, putting an inglorious end to 24 years in office that elevated him to prominence as the nation’s self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff.” Democrats claimed their turnout efforts are what got rid of the Republican sheriff, but Republicans and independents also turned away from the 84-year-old. Arpaio lost after years of controversy and lawsuits targeting his immigration patrols and a criminal contempt-of-court charge that was filed just weeks before the election. Arpaio says he has no regrets.

SHERIFF BABEU — Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu also made a national name for himself by targeting immigration, becoming a cable news regular as he railed against the Obama administration for failing to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. But voters in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District refused to send Babeu to Congress, giving him just 43 percent of the vote in the district that runs from Flagstaff to Tucson and includes the Navajo Nation. He got zero help from national Republicans who poured millions into the race two years ago.

ARIZONA RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION — This group sued to keep the initiative raising the minimum wage off the ballot. The losing effort was seen as the best chance for restaurant owners to avoid a nearly $4 per hour boost in wages for their workers.

MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION ADVOCATES — Recreational marijuana advocates worked hard to persuade voters that the time was right to legalize pot. But opponents led by Gov. Doug Ducey worked just as hard. And in the end, Arizona was the only state where legalization was on the ballot that rejected the effort. California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts made recreational use legal, while Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota voted to allow pot for medical purposes.