Monday, August 17, 2009

East Valley Republicans should take note

We have been talking for awhile now about how the Democrats are ramping up to take a run and making some inroads into the East Valley. With a 14 to 1 ratio of Republicans to Democrats, the East Valley remains steadfastly Republican, something that Democrats may be looking to change.

The current state budget could end up being a turning point for this legislature and for the East Valley legislators. Eye on the 9th Floor has an interesting break down on how this budget stalemate could play out for all of those involved. Since the East Valley is vastly Republican, we'll focus on that section:

The Republicans

The Republicans hold the majority of both the House and the Senate. In theory, they should have the best chance of getting things done. However, fights over revenue, cuts, and the depth of the current budget problem have lead to a battle of ideologies. The Governor has held steadfast to her desire for a sales tax referral, which has since been tempered by a net tax cut by the leaders in the House, yet a referral is still completely unpalatable to some of the most conservative members in the Senate.

How they Win: It seems simple enough, but Republicans win if they can figure out a way to get a budget passed. The protracted session will be something that they will have to overcome, but getting something done now, will give them time to recover. If they pass the referral, they can campaign against the initiative, if they choose, and still get credit for allowing the voters to decide. If they can find a way to pass a budget without a referral, it will be claimed as a greater victory for the far-right conservatives, but it would be tempered by the further cuts that would need to be made later in the year. The Republicans need to prove that they can lead coming out of this budget process.

How they Lose: Imagine this scenario – the budget negotiations drag on for several more weeks with even more bitter Republican on Republican rancor. The Governor turns to the Democrats for negotiations, a move that further angers the far-right, prompting a potential candidate such as Treasurer Dean Martin to throw his hat in the Republican primary. Martin, who is in the same position as Goddard where he can comment, but doesn’t need to actually offer up a solution, proceeds to criticize the Governor and any Republicans willing to negotiate with her, creating even more tension in the legislature. The final result is a disaster for Republicans, resulting in a cobbled together budget reminiscent of Napolitano where the Democrats control the negotiations with a couple of Republicans from swing districts who must desperately avoid dramatic cuts. Any Republicans willing to negotiate would face the same criticisms and attacks in the Primary as those who voted for Napolitano’s budget next time around, and the others who don’t support the budget face the question of if they can lead.

We asked Pearce, Adams and others to allow the voters of Mesa to decide their own fate. To their credit, the East Valley Legislators did just that. They were going to allow the voters to choose for themselves, even though many of them said they would personally vote against the temporary sales tax if it were to make the ballot.

East Valley Republicans should take note that the unfortunate fact is that even though the they have done the right thing, they did not get enough support to move the comprehensive package forward. As long as the Democrats are allowed to sit on the sidelines and position themselves for the future, the Republicans are going to be the ones left taking the blame.

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