Scottsdale voters rejected the rallying cry of social conservatives in two local highprofile races Tuesday by siding with the city’s two strip clubs and denying Rep. Colette Rosati a state Senate race nomination.
In addition, the results indicate a rejection of Scottsdale City Council policy as nearly 53 percent of voters defeated Proposition 401 and the tougher council-imposed regulations against Babe’s Cabaret and Skin Cabaret, according to preliminary results.
Maricopa County Elections Department spokeswoman Yvonne Reed said there are 2,800 early ballots and 6,000 provisional ballots to be counted in the county. Although it was unknown how many were from Scottsdale, the number of outstanding ballots would almost certainly not be sufficient to change the outcome. Final results are expected Friday or sometime next week.
The social conservative, church-going vote — coveted by the Yeson401.com coalition and Rosati — did not come out in large enough numbers for either to win. Moderate Republican Sen. Carolyn Allen defeated Rosati with 55 percent of the vote in the District 8 Senate race. Len Munsil, founder of the Scottsdale-based Center for Arizona Policy that backed the Yeson401.com coalition, did win the Republican gubernatorial nomination but it’s unknown at this time how he fared in Scottsdale precincts.
“I’m sure Rosati got every single right-winger out, but there’s not enough in Scottsdale compared to other places to result in the outcome she wanted,” Arizona State University professor and political analyst Bruce Merrill said.
Merrill said the council process and a belief in less government regulation likely played a role in the Proposition 401 defeat, but another factor is the uniqueness of Scottsdale’s lifestyle and demographics that Merrill said is less concerned with regulating pornography than other places might be.
In the District 8 House of Representatives primary, which covers most of Scottsdale and Fountain Hills, moderate Rep. Michele Reagan, the top vote-getter, and John Kavanagh, will advance to the November election. In bucking the moderate trend, Kavanagh was the more conservative choice than top rival Jim Burke.
And while the results provide some insight into the thinking of Scottsdale voters, the Proposition 401 result still leaves a number of questions.
The 1993 ordinance the council tried to revise remains in place. Scottsdale officials have said that ordinance needs to be updated to comply with recent court decisions, but it remains unknown if a new ordinance will be proposed and if so, how restrictive the council will try to be. The council has yet to schedule a time to receive legal advice.
Lamar Whitmer, a political consultant representing the clubs, said his clients hope to meet with council members.
“I don’t think the council should be in any hurry and they should have gotten the message to do it right,” Whitmer said. “And that doesn’t just mean public meetings but fairness to businesses as well.”
Mayor Mary Manross said she will be happy to meet with club owners. She later added in a statement: “The majority of voters have spoken and I respect that.
“Now it is time to move forward.”
Another unknown is how a judge will rule on criminal misdemeanor charges against employees of Skin and Babe’s for allegedly violating the current ordinance in August 2005. The outcome will be significant because it could give some indication whether the clubs’ practices — such as allowing lap dances and touching — have been in compliance with the city’s ordinance.
The Skin employees’ trial was to begin Wednesday, but was continued to an unknown date. Two of Babe’s managers start their trial Wednesday, but the club’s strippers don’t have a trial date.