By Daniel Stefanski |
Arizona’s Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs experienced yet another high-profile staff exit with a negative headline that couldn’t even wait for a Friday afternoon news dump.
On Thursday, the Arizona political world received shocking news that the governor’s Chief of Staff, Allie Bones, had resigned.
Hobbs issued the following statement in conjunction with the news: “Allie Bones exemplifies the true meaning of a public servant, and I am incredibly grateful for her leadership throughout the transition and this first legislative session of my Administration. Her goal was to build a team that could work across the aisle to navigate divided government, and she accomplished that. With a successful bipartisan budget behind us, she’s ready for her next endeavor, and I wish her nothing but the best.”
The statement released by the Governor’s Office noted that Bones’ resignation was “effective immediately.”
AZ Free News reached out to Senator T.J. Shope, who relayed his reaction upon hearing the news about the major shakeup in Hobbs’ administration, stating, “I can’t say how Allie performed on the 9th Floor, but I appreciated her service to the state and feel that her exit speaks more about the working environment that the Governor allows to exist than anything else. As Harry Truman said, ‘the buck stops here…’ and we’ve seen considerable turnover on the 9th Floor.”
Dennis Welch, a veteran Phoenix journalist shared a perspective of how long the last three Arizona governors employed their chiefs of staff, highlighting that Bones checked out of the Ninth Floor of the Executive Tower considerably sooner than did the chiefs for Republicans Ducey and Brewer.
The Republican runner-up to Hobbs in the November General Election, Kari Lake, also tweeted her thoughts about the news, writing, “Everyone close to Katie Hobbs is fleeing as fast as they can. Hobbs is a disaster. She’s a sinking ship. I just hope she doesn’t take our state down with her.”
Other Republican lawmakers also opined after the news broke about Bones’ departure. Freshman Representative Austin Smith posted, “I’d quit too after that humiliating 1st session as the 9th floor COS.”
And Senator Anthony Kern wrote, “Just way too many vetoes for anyone to handle….”
Bones’ surprising exit comes after weeks of unfavorable headlines and a perpetual loss of political capital for the first-year governor. Hobbs garnered a significant amount of criticism from members of her own party and the Arizona media after she vetoed a wildly bipartisan “Tamale Bill.” She then proceeded to alienate many in her own party (and acquire several more negative headlines) after the Republican-led Legislature achieved most of their priorities in the latest budget for the state, leaving Democrats with countless gripes against the governor’s handling of the negotiations. The budget negotiation process also exposed a growing divide between Hobbs and her other same-party counterparts in state government: Attorney General Kris Mayes and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes.
Hobbs’ short tenure as Arizona’s Chief Executive has been marred by questionable decisions of political judgment that lead many around the state to wonder if she or others around her are mostly to blame. Shortly after taking office, Hobbs supported Steve Gallardo for Chair of the Arizona Democrat Party – even though Gallardo’s opponent, Yolanda Bejarano, received endorsements from U.S. Senator Mark Kelly, Mayes, Fontes, and many other notable officials. Bejarano received 70.2% of the vote in that contest, handing Hobbs an embarrassing loss to commence her time as governor. Less than three months after the transfer of power, the governor’s press secretary, who had already created online controversy before taking the job with Hobbs, resigned after tweeting a GIF showing a woman with two firearms and the caption: “Us when we see transphobes.”
Though she promised to be a transparent governor, Hobbs’ administration has proven to be anything but “open.” Earlier in the year, Hobbs refused to give answers about her Inauguration Fund, giving Republican lawmakers legitimate opportunities to honestly undermine her credibility. The Governor’s Office also slow-walked nominees to the Arizona Senate to begin the confirmation process, allowing a further erosion of the public’s perception of her willingness to follow the Constitution in a divided government. Toward the start of the budget negotiation debate, Hobbs and her administration conceded the high ground to Republican legislators by permitting them to repeatedly highlight her ”closed door” when they desired good-faith conversations. Just weeks ago, too, Hobbs didn’t help matters by running away from reporters who were attempting to obtain long-awaited answers to many outstanding questions.
Hobbs and members of her administration haven’t made it easy on themselves in the first six months of operations, but the fallout chasing the governor hasn’t solely been created by internal missteps. Arizona Democrats have run up against a very disciplined and unified Republican caucus at the Legislature, led by Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma (and their generals, Josh Kredit and Michael Hunter). These Republicans have been resolved to remain consistent in their messaging and united against Hobbs’ policies, constraining her and her allies’ pursuit of a more progressive agenda.
Righting the ship and setting a more stable course will be the monumental task in front of the next Chief of Staff for Arizona’s Governor. In the release announcing Bones’ resignation, the Governor’s Office promised that a new chief of staff would be named by next week.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.