Supreme Court throws another Republican off Corp Comm ballot

Dillon Rosenblatt//May 14, 2020

Supreme Court throws another Republican off Corp Comm ballot

Dillon Rosenblatt//May 14, 2020

Gavel and scales

Another Republican candidate hoping to get elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission has fallen short due to the Arizona Supreme Court reversing a lower court’s decision on her nominating petitions.

Kim Owens, an executive for Gordon C. James Public Relations, originally won her trial court challenge by a mere eight signatures, but after not submitting evidence to support signatures county recorders ruled invalid that Owens thought should be reversed, the high court ruled against her. 

The only evidence offered by Owens to rehabilitate the signatures that were invalidated because the signer was not registered to vote was the ‘GOP Data Center’ records,” a panel of four justices wrote. “However, Owens failed to make the Data Center records available, nor were the records offered or received into evidence.”

This reversal shakes up the Corporation Commission race to the core with three open seats and only two Republicans on the ballot against three Democrats.

Right now Republicans hold a 4-1 majority, but things could flip into Democratic control.

The only Republicans left are Lea Marquez Peterson, an incumbent who Gov. Doug Ducey appointed to the seat in 2019, and who earlier lost her bid for Congress running against Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick; and Eric Sloan, a former Democrat who was fired from the Arizona Department of Gaming for singing slavery-related songs when he passed the desk of black co-workers, among other harassment claims.

Sloan ran for the commission in 2018, but finished last of five candidates in the Republican primary. Sloan also chaired an independent expenditure committee that Arizona Public Service Co. used to funnel money to three Republican candidates in 2016. Part of the duties of the commission is to regulate APS and other monopoly utilities.

Republican Commissioner Boyd Dunn was also thrown off the ballot on May 13, as was political newcomer Nick Myers. Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, withdrew before going to trial over his signatures.

It is possible that Republicans will try to run a write-in candidate, but it legally cannot be Owens, Dunn or Myers, and that candidate would need to receive the same number of votes as the minimum number of signatures they required for the ballot. In this case, Republican candidates seeking statewide office needed 6,663 signatures, making it a much more difficult threshold to meet than, perhaps, a candidate running for the Legislature. 

Three seats are open for the Corporation Commission and three from each political party will make it onto the general election ballot, which means the August primaries will not be competitive races for either side.

 The three Democrats running are Tolleson Mayor Anna Tovar, Bill Mundell, who previously served on the Corporation Commission as a Republican, and Shea Stanfield, a former member of the Cave Creek Town Council.