Top state races could be uphill battle for Democrats - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Top state races could be uphill battle for Democrats

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Posted: Saturday, October 23, 2010 6:00 pm | Updated: 4:10 pm, Wed Dec 3, 2014.

In an election cycle most analysts expect to be kind to Republicans, the Democrats' best shot at winning a statewide race could be for attorney general.

An independent poll released on Oct. 12 indicates that Republican Tom Horne and Democrat Felecia Rotellini are close among likely voters, with plenty undecided. The Rocky Mountain Poll gave Horne a 40-36 edge, with a 4.7-percent margin of error.

Among registered voters, Horne and Rotellini were tied, 34-34, with a 4.2-percent error margin.

Horne said immigration is the most pressing issue for the attorney general's office. He supports SB 1070 and feels that it does not violate the supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution, saying the law serves as a "force multiplier" for border patrol.

Horne said that as attorney general, he could defend a law, should it pass the Legislature, eliminating birthright citizenship. He would continue Arizona's suit challenging federal health care reform.

Rotellini did not support SB 1070 - she said the law "does not fix" the immigration problem - but did say she would, as attorney general, defend it against legal challenges. She believes that pursuing organized criminals who smuggle people and drugs into the country is a more effective approach.

She said she would continue the state's lawsuit challenging federal health-care reform. She would build on mortgage regulation and loan-officer licensing started by the Department of Financial Institutions and aggressively enforce the state's open-meeting laws.

In other major state-wide races:

Secretary of state: Incumbent Ken Bennett is the Republican nominee and Chris Deschene the Democratic choice for the role of Arizona's chief elections officer. The secretary of state is first in the line of succession to become governor, which has happened five times in Arizona since 1977.

Bennett advocates creating voting centers for Election Day that would accept voters from anyplace in a county. Voters wouldn't have to worry about going to a specific precinct and could vote near their workplace at lunch, he said, rather than having to worry about rushing home.

Deschene feels Arizona has too many voting laws that create confusion and result in voters being unfairly purged from the rolls. He criticized Bennett's voting center plan, saying it could be expensive and take years to ensure the system wouldn't allow people to vote at multiple locations.

Treasurer: Andrei Cherny, the Democratic nominee, feels that part of his job will be "setting an economic strategy" for the state. The former state assistant attorney general and economic policy adviser for the Clinton administration feels that audits of state government are necessary to find waste.

Doug Ducey, a Republican, aims to rely on his business experience - the CEO of Cold Stone Creamery from 1995-2007, he oversaw its growth to 1,440 stores worldwide - to manage Arizona's $10 billion investment portfolio and attract new commerce to the state.

The task will be a challenging one: Arizona faces a budget deficit of $825 million for the current fiscal year, up from previous estimates of $700 million. The deficit for the next fiscal year could be as high as $1.4 billion.

Superintendent of public instruction: Arizona's race for state schools chief is between a longtime educator and a longtime state legislator.

The Democratic candidate is Penny Kotterman, a former school teacher who spent many years as leader of the state's largest teachers union, the Arizona Education Association. The Republican candidate is John Huppenthal, a trained engineer who has spent 17 years on the state House and state Senate education committees, including tenure as the Senate Education Committee chairman.

The superintendent oversees Arizona's public schools - district and charter - that educate more than 1 million students. The department handles teacher certification, disburses federal funds, compiles information on school accountability and oversees the state's AIMS test.

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