Gov. Doug Ducey insisted Friday he has no intent to order Arizonans to stay at home as his counterparts in New York and California have done.
In his latest briefing, the governor said he sees no reason to go beyond his directive issued late Thursday to shutter bars, gyms and movie theaters in counties where there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 and to allow only take-out and delivery services by restaurants. That currently covers nine of the state’s 15 counties.
And Ducey said Friday he has no intention to either expand the restrictions statewide or to add other kinds of businesses where there is close personal contact to the list of businesses that have to close their doors like spas and hair salons, even as the number of confirmed infections reached 68.
The state late Friday also recorded its first death, that of a male in his 50s living in Maricopa County with what state officials said were “underlying health conditions.”
The governor said broader restrictions are not necessary.
“I have no desire to shutter something that would not protect public health,” Ducey said.
The governor acknowledged that the restrictions he has ordered have changed, sometimes over the course of less than 24 hours. But Ducey said there’s a good reason for that.
“Each escalation, declaration and executive order that I have put out has been with the guidance of Dr. Cara Christ (the state health director) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But even without any stay-at-home directive, both the governor and his health director say that’s still their advice, albeit one without enforcement.
“Stay home, especially if you or a loved one have an underlying medical condition or are elderly,” Christ said. “If someone in your household has COVID-19 everyone in the household should stay home until you are recovered.”
And the health director said Arizonans should pretty much forget about actually getting testing to determine if they have the novel coronavirus.
“We continue to face a national shortage of test collection supplies and lab reagents,” Christ said. “There are not enough tests at this time for everyone who wants to be tested.”
But she said that, for those who do not have extreme symptoms like difficulty breathing, knowing whether they have COVID-19 or something else, testing really won’t help them.
“It’s important to be clear: There is no specific treatment for this disease,” Christ said. “And the result of a COVID-19 test will not change your clinical treatment while you are sick.
Friday’s briefing also provided the first indications of what role the National Guard, called out by Ducey late Thursday, will play in restocking stores. The governor said the bare shelves have nothing really to do with an insufficient supply but is instead a direct effect of hoarding.
“There is not a shortage of toilet paper or hand sanitizer or bottled water,” he said.
“This has been binge buying,” the governor said. “This has been caused by the very real fear that is out there.”
And the fact is, Ducey said, there’s no way grocers can keep their shelves stocked at the rate items are being snapped up. That goes to what he said will be the role of the troops.
“We can do big-scale logistics,” said Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, the adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard. He said that particularly means moving large quantities of food “that final mile” between warehouses and grocery stores.
Ducey said that’s where the bottleneck is.
“It typically takes two trucks to restock a grocery store,” he said. “Today, in this environment, it’s taking 12 trucks.”
That’s where the soldiers fit it, driving trucks and unloading pallets of goods.
McGuire said there may be situations where soldiers are actually helping not just unload pallets of items but actually are ensuring that items get onto shelves.
“But I can tell you with only 8,000 of us we can’t stock every store in the state,” he said. More to the point, the general said that’s not what he has in mind for his soldiers.
“I hope that we are a bridging strategy to have those types of duties filled by community members that are not feeling ill that want to support their community, either go to work for these food companies or come in as volunteers,” McGuire said. He said the better use of soldiers would be for those things for which his troops have been trained.
Consider, he said, a situation where a commercial truck driver calls in sick.
“We have a commercial truck driver that can fill in that gap,” the general said.
“That’s better use for me than to have folks unpack pallets,” McGuire continued. “But we’ll do whatever we need to do to first bridge this gap.”
The general said the initial call up is only about 200.
He could not provide an estimate of how many soldiers eventually would be involved in the operation.
“Over the weekend, we’re going to be adding to that,” he said. But McGuire made it clear that there are Guard troops doing other jobs in the private sector that are better off where they are.
“If I pull in doctors, nurses, medics that are already working in our local hospitals, it’s a zero-sum game,” he said.
Groceries aside, one issue is medical supplies, particularly ventilators that may be needed for hospitals to treat people with respiratory problems.
Christ said the state has anywhere from 1,500 to 1,800 beds in intensive-care units. She said her agency is trying to find out where there are ventilators, not only as hospitals but out-patient surgical facilities and training centers.
“And we are putting in an additional request for federal ventilators,” Christ said.
The governor said Arizonans need to recognize that the situation created by the outbreak is not going to go away any time soon.
“We don’t have any illusions about this fight,” he said.
“We are in this for the long haul,” Ducey said. “I think it’s important that people begin to think of this as a marathon and not a sprint.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect one death has been reported in the death.
Gov. Doug Ducey wants federal dollars and an expanded role for the Arizona National Guard, saying the citizens, economy and infrastructure of the state have been “catastrophically affected” by COVID-19.
“The State of Arizona resources are being overwhelmed and additional federal funding is critical,” Ducey wrote in a letter Friday to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. “This event has caused and continues to cause widespread effects (both known and unknown).”
The governor’s letter went out the same day that he and Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire had a press conference to explain the role that Guard troops, called out by Ducey the day before, would play.
Both emphasized that they were there for logistical support, largely to help restock the shelves of grocery stores that had been stripped bare of many items by people who were hoarding.
“We can do big-scale logistics,” said McGuire, the adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard. He said that particularly means moving large quantities of food “that final mile” between warehouses and grocery stores.
What was not mentioned at the time was that Ducey was telling Esper that he foresees the need for up to 5,500 troops and an even larger role for the Guard, including:
▪ providing hazmat protective equipment to hospitals which now have “inadequate and uni-sized protective gear;”
▪ assembly and preparation of field hospitals to treat those with non-COVID-19 conditions to allow hospitals to focus on those with the novel coronavirus;
▪ provide a reserve of medical providers.
But Ducey said it may not stop there, saying troops could provide “additional assistance (which) may also include future support to local law enforcement.
The governor said, though, duties would include those “not impeded by Posse Comitatus.
That 1878 law prohibits the use of the military to enforce the law or suppress civil disorder unless expressly ordered to do so by the president. But the governor said that those limitations do not apply when Guard troops are “under state command and control.”
Ducey did not explain what role he wants them to play but only that they are needed — and the federal government should come up with some cash.
“The citizens, economy and infrastructure of the state of Arizona catastrophically affected by COVID-19 ultimately affects the citizens, economy and infrastructure of the nation,” the governor wrote. And he said that without federal funding “Arizona will be incapable of quelling the risk to the state and nation.”
Gubernatorial press aide Patrick Ptak denied late Sunday that his boss was withholding information from the public about conditions in Arizona or the role Ducey wants the Guard to play.
“This letter is intended to secure an offset from the federal government for National Guard activity here in the state,” he said. And Ptak denied that his boss is either not telling the whole story to Arizona residents or to the Pentagon whose dollars he is seeking.
“We’ve been straightforward about what we expect them to do,” he said, calling the letter and the verbiage “something we have to do” to draw down federal dollars.
“The governor has been very transparent about Arizona’s COVID-19 response, including daily press briefings last week,” Ptak said.
When Ducey wrote the letter to Esper he told the Pentagon chief that Arizona had 44 confirmed cases and no known deaths. As of Sunday afternoon that number had reached 152 with two deaths.
With just less a year to go until the 2022 Arizona primary, most races have started to take shape.
Legislative and congressional districts could change dramatically after redistricting, and some newcomers and incumbents alike are waiting to see what the new districts look like before they decide whether to jump into a race. Others are taking advantage of a state law that allows them to gather signatures from both their old and new districts.
Statewide, only Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly are running for re-election to their current posts, leaving the races for governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer wide open.
It all adds up to a lengthy and expensive campaign season in a state that finally started its long-anticipated blue shift and an election cycle that historically would favor Republicans.
That advantage is twofold: first, GOP voters more consistently turn out in non-presidential elections, and Democrats hold the White House and Congress. Typically, the president’s party does worse in midterm elections.
Pollster Paul Bentz said 2022 is more likely to resemble 2010 than 2018. In 2010, Arizona Republicans had a 12-point turnout advantage, compared to seven points in 2018, when Democrats worked hard to mobilize voters and succeeded in flipping the U.S. House and electing Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Hoffman.
“I do think Republicans will be more motivated to participate because (Joe) Biden won the election,” he said. “The only caveat to that is all of this election fraud discussion, and all of the behavior changes that we saw because the former president cast doubt on early voting in Arizona. That might impact what should traditionally be a very Republican year.”
Multiple Republican lawmakers have warned that their voters have said they won’t participate in what they view as a rigged system, and Bentz said Georgia’s Senate runoffs bore out some of those fears. Democrats won both January elections with lower-than-usual Republican turnout after former President Donald Trump spent two months claiming the election system was rigged.
“It should be a motivation for Republicans to try to wrap this audit up, because the longer the audit drags on, the less time they have to recover from it and restore integrity and Republican belief in the system enough to take advantage of what is traditionally a more Republican-friendly cycle,” Bentz said.
The top of the ticket for statewide races pits five Republican candidates against three Democrats, with front-runners already emerging. Former TV anchor Kari Lake is in prime position to take the Republican nomination if she can keep her early grassroots momentum, and her likely opponent at this point is Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who continues to capitalize on her opposition to the Senate’s audit.
Lake is running against former Congressman Matt Salmon, who lost the gubernatorial race to Janet Napolitano two decades ago; former regent Karrin Taylor Robson; State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, hoping to follow Gov. Doug Ducey’s footsteps to the governorship; and businessman Steve Gaynor, who lost his 2018 bid for secretary of state and could self-fundraise as much as $10 million.
Hobbs is joined by former Nogales Mayor Marco Lopez and state Rep. Aaron Lieberman, who is expected to resign from his seat before next year to campaign full time.
Depending on how long it lasts, the audit could determine the fate of secretary of state candidates, which could be a major swing for Democrats in the field. It’s a race between House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding and former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes. Fontes has name recognition, but Bolding has the advantage of not recently losing the county needed to win a statewide election as a Democrat.
That winner will take on the victor between three lawmakers and an ad executive. Stop the Steal supporters Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, and Rep. Shawnna Bolick, R-Phoenix, are locked in a two-person race to scoop up votes from hardcore audit supporters, while Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita of Scottsdale is distancing herself from the crowd that recently booed her off stage and is running on her extensive election integrity track record. Beau Lane is also in the mix, but hasn’t made much noise yet, outside of a video that claims people are spreading lies about the election – the 2016 election.
The race to become the state’s top prosecutor hasn’t gotten a lot of attention yet, which could signal a problem candidates will face in 2022 – not enough voters care about down ballot races. That’s particularly problematic for Democrats, who historically are worse at turning out – and voting down-ballot – than Republicans.
Kris Mayes, a former Republican from Prescott, seems like the favorite on the Democratic side against Rep. Diego Rodriguez, but progressives are skeptical, considering her Republican history. Mayes has a history of working across party lines – she was on Democratic Governor Napolitano’s staff before being appointed to the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Meanwhile, the most recognition Rodriguez has received came in a loss to now-Supreme Court Justice Bill Montgomery in the 2016 race for Maricopa County attorney. Robert McWhirter, who finished the 2020 Democratic primary for county attorney in last place, is also running.
So far, three Republicans are in the race and none have much name ID, though former congressional candidate Tiffany Shedd has campaign experience. Former Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould was the first to jump in, followed by Shedd and Lacy Cooper, who formerly worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona.
All three plan to run on the top Republican issue – the border, so it’ll be other issues that will separate them. Perennial losing candidate Rodney Glassman and Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Dawn Grove, who was just named as one of AZ Big Media’s most influential women, also entered the race.
Yee’s gubernatorial run leaves open the treasurer’s race for the seventh consecutive election. So far on the Republican side, Rep. Regina Cobb of Kingman and Sen. David Livingston of Peoria are in the race and Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson, a former East Valley lawmaker, is expected to jump in any day. Cobb is entering her fourth year as chair of the budget-setting House Appropriations Committee, and Livingston has spent his past several years drafting complex financial legislation.
No Democrats have yet entered the race, nor has a Democrat been elected treasurer since 1964. Sen. Tony Navarrete is the only Democrat expected to run this year.
Hoffman is in prime position to remain as superintendent of public instruction. She will face the winner of a crowded field of mostly unknown Republicans plus former state schools superintendent and former attorney general Tom Horne.
The five-person Corporation Commission, widely considered the state’s fourth branch of government, has two available seats next year and offers a chance for Democrats to seize a narrow majority.
Olson, who was first appointed to fill former Republican Commissioner Doug Little’s seat in 2017, isn’t expected to run again. Democrat Sandra Kennedy is seeking re-election to her seat.
Olson’s deputy policy adviser Nick Myers is running on a GOP slate with Mesa City Councilor Kevin Thompson. Ex-commissioner Little and public relations official Kim Owens are also seeking the Republican nomination.
Kennedy will run on a slate with Tempe City Councilor and environmental activist Lauren Kuby as the Democrats in the race.
It’s still too early to make any predictions about the balance of the next Legislature until new maps are drawn, Bentz said. And with a one-vote margin in each chamber, all eyes are on the Independent Redistricting Commission.
Democrats fear the commission, vetted by Ducey appointees, will draw maps that favor Republicans. Republicans, who have spent the past decade insisting the current districts are gerrymandered in Democrats’ favor, say they think they’ll finally have “fair” districts.
While many candidates, including roughly half the current Legislature, have filed to run, their districts might change. Republican voters anticipate a high-profile primary matchup between former lawmaker Anthony Kern and Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale. Kern is a Trump elector, short-lived audit volunteer, and outspoken figure in the “Stop the Steal” movement. He was photographed on the U.S. Capitol steps and video recorded in the doorway of the building after his fellow protesters breached multiple barriers and broke into the building on January 6. Boyer is the most vocal GOP critic of the audit and the first Republican legislator to publicly admit Biden won the election.
But the two could end up in different districts, given that the northwest Valley has experienced substantial growth over the past decade and their districts will likely be geographically smaller.
In other current swing districts, Democrats may get a leg up in Chandler as Rep. Jeff Weninger hits term limits and the current Legislative District 17 won’t have a Republican incumbent. Democratic consultants roundly criticized last year’s decision to run a so-called single shot campaign in the district, which already had a Democratic representative in Jennifer Pawlik.
A north Phoenix race could also change depending on whether Lieberman serves his full term or resigns to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. Resigning would give his appointed replacement the advantage of incumbency.
Several Republicans have announced their intent to take Kelly in Arizona’s fourth Senate election in as many cycles. While Attorney General Mark Brnovich appears to have a slight edge over other Republicans in what little polling is available so far, he may struggle to get the one endorsement that could matter the most in a GOP primary.
Trump has repeatedly alleged that the 2020 election was stolen from him and has castigated Brnovich and Ducey for not overturning President Biden’s narrow win in Arizona.
Ducey has said he is not running for Senate, but it hasn’t completely squelched speculation he might jump in. Florida Sen. Rick Scott, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, mused in a podcast interview in July that he might be able to get Ducey to run.
“I think we have a shot with Doug Ducey,” Scott said. “I think there’s a chance he will run. He’s a very popular governor.”
Also running for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination are Blake Masters, who is backed by billionaire Peter Thiel; former Arizona National Guard Leader Maj. Gen. Michael “Mick” McGuire, and businessman Jim Lamon, who launched his campaign with ads in New Jersey to attract Trump’s attention.
The balance of power in Arizona’s congressional delegation may come down to where lines are drawn in southern Arizona. Ann Kirkpatrick is the only incumbent so far to announce she won’t run again, and the 2nd Congressional District flipped parties twice over the past decade.
“I think southern Arizona in that District 2 general area, which has been a swing district in the past, is likely to be the one that most people are paying attention to because those lines will really make a difference on if that one stays Democrat or Republican,” Bentz said.
Retired Maj. Gen. Michael “Mick” McGuire, who led the Arizona National Guard through the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, formally began his campaign for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, becoming the second major Republican looking to unseat Democrat Mark Kelly.
McGuire introduced himself with an online video highlighting his military career and presenting himself as a political outsider tired of “weak leaders” and “politicians who sit on the sidelines.”
In his video, McGuire describes himself as a “constitutional conservative” and calls for securing the border. He says he opposes abortion, will protect 1st and 2nd Amendment rights and “will walk shoulder to shoulder with law enforcement.”
McGuire, who retired earlier this year from the military and from his post as head of Arizona’s emergency management agency, was a visible presence and a booming voice beside Gov. Doug Ducey during televised briefings about the pandemic. The guard helped deliver goods and stock shelves at food banks and grocery stores as supply chains froze up and panicked shoppers snapped up food and paper products last year.
The Guard also built temporary medical facilities and flew supplies to the remote and underserved Navajo Nation as the outbreak hit the reservation hard. Guardsmen also responded to racial justice protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
About 85% of the Guard has been called up in the last year, more than have ever responded to domestic needs, McGuire said in April at a news conference where Ducey introduced his successor at the National Guard.
McGuire also oversaw the deployment of Guardsmen to the southern border.
McGuire, an Air Force Academy graduate, flew F-16 fighters before joining the Arizona National Guard in 2001, where he continued as an F-16 instructor pilot and flew MQ-1B Predator drones. Gov. Jan Brewer appointed him adjutant general, the Guard’s top leader, and head of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs in 2013. Ducey kept him in the job when he took office in 2015.
Solar energy entrepreneur Jim Lamon was the first major Republican candidate to jump in the race. Other Republicans considering a Senate run include U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs and Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
Kelly, a retired astronaut, won a special election last year to finish the late John McCain’s last Senate term. He is now running for a full six-year term. The race is one of the most high-profile contests in 2022 and will help determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
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