Author: Mike Huckins, Vice President of Public Affairs
Earlier this month, more than 3.4 million Arizonans voted in the November 3 General Election. With that many ballots cast and a nearly 80% voter turnout rate, this year’s election far surpassed historical voting records, with almost 1 million more ballots cast than the prior presidential election year.
This year the Greater Phoenix Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) endorsed 60 legislative and local candidates and saw a 94% success rate among endorsed candidates. I’m proud to share that 55 pro-business, pro-Arizona candidates who will support policies critical to Arizona’s economy won their election and will help stand as the voice of business in January.
A key theme of the November election across the state and the political spectrum was competitive races. This year has proven to be unlike any other in a multitude of areas—the election being no different. Arizona voted in favor of Joe Biden, with a narrow margin of approximately 11,000 votes, marking the first time Arizona’s electoral votes will go to the Democratic candidate since Bill Clinton was elected to his second term in office in 1996.
Arizona also elected Mark Kelly the next U.S. Senator to join the ranks of the state’s congressional delegation. Although this race was also heated, the margins were slightly larger between Kelly and incumbent Senator Martha McSally in the final vote count.
This year also included several notable and close elections between established lawmakers and hopeful challengers. Although votes trended Democrat on the Federal level, state legislative races favored Republicans, who maintained their majority in the state House of Representatives (31-29) and the state Senate (16-14).
- Notable Election: In District 28, long time legislator and current Senator Kate Brophy McGee narrowly lost to challenger Christine Marsh by just under 500 votes. This loss will add one Democrat to the Senate’s member count, making the member margins that much closer to a split chamber.
- Notable Election: While the Senate tightened the gap between Democrat and Republican member counts, District 4 added a Republican member to its roster in the House. Joel John defeated Democrat Gerae Peten in another close race.
- Notable Election: In District 20, a competitive House race led to current Representative and Republican Anthony Kern’s loss to Democrat Judy Schwiebert.
In addition to the candidate elections, Arizonans also made decisions regarding two ballot measures.
- Proposition 207: The Smart & Safe Arizona Act, which legalizes the use and sale of recreational marijuana, won with large support by Arizona voters. The Chamber opposed this initiative due to the lack of protections surrounding employers and business owners in maintaining a safe and drug free workplace.
- Proposition 208: While Prop 207’s win was unmistakable, 208 narrowly claimed victory with just under 52% of the vote. This measure will impose a 3.5% tax surcharge on taxable annual income over $250,000 for single persons or married persons filing separately, or $500,000 for married persons filing jointly or heads of households, to increase funding for public education. Although the Chamber supports proper funding mechanisms for public education, the initiative may have disastrous affects on Arizona’s small businesses due to the fact that many small businesses file their taxes through the individual income tax method.
To ensure that Chamber members and elected officials understand the business community’s priorities, the Chamber will be releasing our 2021 Public Policy Guide next month. The Public Policy Guide serves as a reference point for business positions on key issues across the policy spectrum.