Arizona Senate Activity;
North Carolina Map … Again

Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 11, 2018 — Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio made a political move regarding the open Senate race on Tuesday, just as Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) was scheduling a series of statewide “events” for Friday.

The controversial ex-sheriff, who President Trump pardoned earlier in the year just before his sentencing for a contempt of court conviction, announced his candidacy for Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R) open seat. Many, however, including Sen. Flake himself, do not believe that Arpaio will follow through with his candidacy. The former sheriff, who was defeated for re-election in 2016, has frequently said he was going to launch a statewide campaign but ultimately backed away from doing so. As an aside, should Arpaio be elected at 85 years of age, he would become the oldest freshman senator in American history.

Rep. McSally’s Friday appearances are reported to be a Senate announcement tour. Since Sen. Flake announced his retirement, it has been expected that McSally would become a Senate candidate.

Ironically, should Arpaio run, the big beneficiary might actually be McSally. With ex-state Sen. Kelli Ward in position to attract the more conservative Arizona primary voter, Sheriff Arpaio’s presence, complete with his virtually universal name identification and well-known border protection positions, would clearly split the former legislator’s political base. In a state with no secondary run-off election system, this would likely allow McSally the opportunity of winning the nomination without having to secure a majority vote.

Arpaio was first elected Maricopa County sheriff in 1992, and was re-elected in 1996 without opposition. He scored a 66 percent re-election victory in 2000, but would see his win percentages drop in each election, thereafter. His 2004 re-election margin was 57-31-13 percent, then dropped to 55-42 percent four years later, went further downward to 51-45 percent in 2012, and then finally dipped well below victory level in the last general election, when he lost on a 44-56 percent count.

McSally was first elected in 2014, winning the closest congressional election in the country that year, a 161-vote victory over second-term incumbent Rep. Ron Barber (D-Tucson). The new congresswoman was re-elected with 57 percent during the presidential election year, an impressive figure considering that President Trump lost her southeastern Arizona district in the same election by five percentage points.

North Carolina

In a rather odd ruling, a federal court in Greensboro again invalidated the North Carolina congressional lines on Tuesday. This is the second time in two consecutive election cycles that the Tar Heel State map has been declared unconstitutional.

But the judge’s ruling may not last long. Because the underlying reason for the challenge is political gerrymandering, the Wisconsin case currently before the US Supreme Court will dictate whether the North Carolina map stands or is forced to be re-drawn. The oral arguments have already been delivered in the Wisconsin case, and a ruling is awaited from the high panel.

Instead of waiting for SCOTUS to rule, the North Carolina federal court moved ahead with its own decision. The defendant, the State of North Carolina in this instance, will undoubtedly move to stay the action. Since the Supreme Court granted a stay of the Wisconsin lower court ruling, chances are strong that the Justices will follow a similar course here.

Therefore, whether or not the North Carolina lines are actually re-drawn once more will assuredly depend upon the Supreme Court’s action pertaining to the Wisconsin case and not because of yesterday’s potentially irrelevant decision.

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