After months of acrimonious ads, dubious debates and just general bad behavior by candidates, something amazing happened Tuesday: You had your say.
Voter turnout in Arizona exceeded 60 percent, as estimated by the secretary of state’s office — and may even approach 65 percent, according to an Associated Press report. That kind of turnout seldom is seen outside of presidential election years.
Whether you agree with the results of this nastier-than-ever campaign season or are still nursing your injured pride, it will make a huge difference in the days ahead. Republicans have locked up all of the state’s top posts — governor, secretary of state, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, treasurer and a majority on the powerful Corporation Commission. As such, they have already assured that their relationship with the Legislature will be a harmonious one — which is fortunate, because now they have a lot of work to do. The failure of two ballot propositions that would have bolstered the state’s general fund by raiding early childhood development and land preservation programs has left a nearly half-billion-dollar hole in the budget. Voters have decided to send conservative lawmakers back to the Capitol without the specific tools they wanted to deal with the ongoing budget crisis.
As bad as the budget picture may be when the 50th Legislature convenes in January, we hope the solid Republican majority in both houses will help lawmakers maintain a clear focus, as incoming Senate President Russell Pearce pledged, on creating “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Republicans and their “tea party” kingmakers have said they’ll remove burdens on businesses that have kept job growth from happening. Now, at the state Capitol and in the halls of Congress, they have a chance to do that. And it must happen without delay.
The tea party revolution’s lasting impact on Arizona — and the nation — may be a simple realignment of priorities that will end up benefiting both parties if they can work together before the next election cycle. Like them or loathe them, the various tea party organizations that have so sensationalized the midterm elections can be seen as white blood cells rising up as an immune response to the infected agenda of a federal government that is seen as out of control and out of touch. Even President Barack Obama had to strike a more conciliatory tone while catching his breath after bruising Democratic losses across the nation, acknowledging that the will of the people will steer his administration toward a greater focus on the economy and job creation. If anyone is to be better off in the next two years, let’s hope Obama stays true to his word — and that the newly Republican House of Representatives gets to work and doesn’t gloat for too long. Bipartisanship is the only way out of this mess.
The Tribune struck an independent tone when it endorsed a wide variety of candidates in Tuesday’s general election. Some of them won, and some didn’t. We were striving to reflect the diverse values and needs of people in the East Valley.
It’s certainly clear that the area will be well represented at the leadership level in the state Senate: In addition to Pearce’s ascension, Senate Democrats have picked David Schapira to be their minority leader. The Tempe lawmaker was an effective voice in the state House, fighting for accountability in Arizona’s broken system of tuition tax credits for private schools. And few would argue that Mesa’s Pearce has not been setting the agenda in Arizona for some time.