On Thursday, Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Tucson and Phoenix, announcing over $75.2 million in grant awards for communities throughout the state.
“[These are] improvements that are going to make for better travel and better safety here in Tucson and in Phoenix,” said Buttigieg.
These Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants were awarded to Navajo County, Phoenix, Tucson, and the Colorado Indian River Tribes.
Over $2.2 billion from 166 RAISE Grants were distributed throughout the country. Arizona communities received five different grants: $261,000 to Navajo County to improve 16 miles of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure; $25 million to Phoenix to construct a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Rio Salado River; $25 million to Tucson to renovate an old bridge; and nearly $25 million to the Colorado Indian River Tribes to reconstruct 10 miles of road.
The DOT characterized this latest round of grants as their largest investment in RAISE Program history.
Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-02) explained in a press release that the Tucson grant will update the 22nd Street bridge to accommodate heavy vehicles like trucks, buses, and emergency medical services — something the bridge was unable to do before, which Kirkpatrick said led to traffic congestion and delays.
“Increasing capacity on 22nd street will reconnect our communities and facilitate a necessary east-west economic and transportation corridor between downtown Tucson and disconnected and underserved areas in the city,” said Kirkpatrick. “This project will help close the gaps in our city’s transportation infrastructure, and support equitable access to resources and opportunities for all Tucsonans.”
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego shared that the $25 million for a bridge over the Rio Salado river would connect downtown Phoenix to South Phoenix. Gallego provided a map of the planned bridge location, which revealed that the bridge would span the Rio Salado River and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, going from Central Avenue to State Route 143.
Following Tuesday’s primary election win, Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters appears to have shifted his campaign tone to appeal to independent voters. That base of “other” voters is the second largest, a close second to registered Republicans.
In a campaign video released Wednesday, Masters’ descriptors now read “independent.” Past videos displayed prominently former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, as well as his features on right-leaning networks like Fox News and conservative pundits’ shows, such as those hosted by Ben Shapiro and Steve Bannon.
In the video, Masters’ wife asserts that America’s heading down a bad path, narrating a smiling Masters playing with his children.
“He’s in it because he loves his country so much, and he loves his state so much. He would make Arizona so proud,” said Catherine.
Masters’ tone shift likely has to do with the increase in Arizona’s independent voters. There are more independent than Democratic voters, and their base comes in a close second to Republican voters.
The secretary of state’s latest voter registration data reported well over 1.4 million Republicans (34 percent), slightly over 1.4 million “other” voters (33 percent, which includes independents, those without a party preference, and those without a major party), and under 1.3 million Democrats (31 percent).
Masters won Tuesday’s primary with slightly over 39 percent of the vote (over 250,800 votes). Candidate Jim Lamon came in second with nearly 29 percent of the vote (under 185,000 votes), and Attorney General Mark Brnovich came in third with over 18 percent of the voter (over 117,300 votes).
Candidate Mick McGuire earned under 9 percent of the vote (under 56,600 votes), and Justin Olson earned over 5 percent (over 32,800 votes).
Altogether, voters who participated in the Republican primary totaled about 642,500. That’s just over 1 percent of all registered voters, and over 22 percent of Republican and “other” (includes independents) combined.
Masters will face off against the incumbent, Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who was uncontested in his election. Kelly pulled just under 495,500 votes.
Democrat incumbent Senator Mark Kelly ran uncontested. He earned over 506,800 votes.
Republican Blake Masters accrued over 256,000 votes, pulling ahead of contenders Jim Lamon (187,714 votes), Attorney General Mark Brnovich (119,232 votes), Mick McGuire (57,895 votes), and Justin Olson (33,307). Former President Donald Trump endorsed Masters.
The Libertarian Party candidate, Marc Victor, ran uncontested as well. He earned just under 2,600 votes.
Congress, District 1: Hodge v. Schweikert
Democrat Jevin Hodge bested Adam Metzendorf, over 39,200 votes to over 24,600 votes.
Incumbent David Schweikert (R-AZ-06), who had Trump’s endorsement, accrued over 42,000 votes, achieving 10 percent more of the vote than runner-up Elijah Norton and 20 percent more of the vote than Josh Barnett.
The District 1 Republican primary was one of the more contested ones. Schweikert and Norton lobbed accusations at one another over ethics, either concerning campaign signs or finances. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) fined Schweikert $125,000 for 11 ethics violations.
Congress, District 2: Crane v. O’Halleran
Republican Eli Crane beat out State Representative Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake), earning just under 28,400 votes over Blackman’s over 20,400 votes. The remainder of the heavily-contested primary split the vote five different ways: Mark DeLuzio, under 14,800 votes; John Moore, over 6,000 votes; Andy Yates, just under 6,000 votes; Steven Krystofiak, just over 4,700 votes; and Ron Watkins in last, with just over 3,100 votes.
Crane had Trump’s endorsement.
Democratic incumbent Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) pulled over 57,600 votes.
Congress, District 3: Gallego v. Nelson
Democratic incumbent Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07) earned just under 39,800 votes.
Gallego pledged to “make an example” of Republican candidate Jeff Zink, who ran uncontested and earned over 11,500 votes. Zink’s son, Texas resident Ryan Zink, was arrested over his presence at the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol. The elder Zink attended the rally, but didn’t participate in the riot.
Congress, District 4: Cooper v. Stanton
Republican Kelly Cooper (just under 16,700 votes) edged out a narrow victory over opponents Tanya Wheeless (over 13,900 votes), Dave Giles (nearly 11,000), Rene Lopez (over 8,000 votes), Rene Lopez (over 8,000), and Jerone Davison (over 7,000).
Democratic incumbent Greg Stanton (D-AZ-09) ran uncontested, earning over 51,700 votes.
Congress, District 5: Biggs v. Ramos
Incumbent Republican Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) ran uncontested, earning over 73,300 votes.
Biggs will face off against Democrat Javier Ramos, who ran uncontested and pulled over 41,500 votes.
Congress, District 6: Ciscomani v. Engel
Republican Juan Ciscomani won a crowded race, beating out four other opponents with over 43,800 votes. Brandon Martin earned over 12,200 votes, Kathleen Winn earned over 17,200 votes, Young Mayberry earned over 7,900 votes, and Lucretia Free earned over 4,400 votes.
In a slightly-less crowded race, Democrat and former state legislator Kirsten Engel (over 49,800 votes) beat out State Representative Daniel Hernandez (D-Tucson), who earned over 28,600 votes, and Avery Anderson, who earned over 5,000 votes.
Congress, District 7: Grijalva v. Pozzolo
Incumbent Democrat Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-03) ran uncontested, pulling over 56,000 votes.
Grijalva will face off against Republican candidate Luis Pozzolo, who earned over 17,500 votes compared to his opponent, Nina Becker, with over 8,000 votes.
Congress, District 8: Lesko
Incumbent Republican Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) ran uncontested, and faces no opponents in the general election.
Congress, District 9: Gosar
Incumbent Republican Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) emerged victorious in a crowded primary with over 58,200 votes. He beat out three opponents: Randy Kutz, over 11,500 votes; Adam Morgan, nearly 11,100 votes; and Sandra Dowling, over 8,100 votes.
Governor Doug Ducey criticized Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request for National Guard troops to mitigate about 4,000 migrants in her city, noting that Arizona bears a far greater burden and that her party could solve the root cause. Since January, there have been over 1.4 million encounters along the southwest border; that’s well over 3.2 million encounters since President Joe Biden took office.
Ducey noted that Arizona endured just shy of 43,600 border encounters in June — not including the far-greater estimates of “gotaways,” or those illegal crossers spotted but not apprehended.
The governor noted that the Biden administration hasn’t declared a national emergency over the border crisis. Ducey issued a state of emergency last April. He also recounted how Arizona used its own state resources to deploy its own National Guard troops to handle the mass border invasion.
Ducey has consistently accused Democratic leadership of failing to take action. He advised Bowser that her plea for troops was only a temporary solution to a problem that her party could solve.
“Mayor Bowser is right. This is a humanitarian crisis. Yet her allies in the White House and Congress refuse to act,” stated Ducey. “If the Mayor really wants to address the issue, she can join us in calling for President Biden to take action at the root of the problem, and secure our southern border.”
AZ Free News reported earlier this month that the Border Patrol (BP) Yuma Sector reported over 235,000 encounters — a 300 percent increase from this same time last year. Nationwide, that number grew to over 1.7 million encounters this fiscal year, October to June.
In May, the Arizona House Republican caucus submitted a legislative proclamation denouncing the current state of the border. The proclamation exhorted President Joe Biden’s administration to act.
Both of Arizona’s Democratic Senators, Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, took action to mitigate the illegal crossings. The pair announced in March that they secured budget provisions to increase border security, though none were allocated to finishing the border wall.
On Tuesday, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for requiring schools to adopt gender ideology practices in order to receive free or reduced lunch funds. About half of Arizona’s children rely on those meals.
The federal government supplements states with funds to provide free or reduced meals for low-income K-12 students. As AZ Free News reported, the Biden administration updated its Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) guidelines for its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to clarify that protected classes within anti-discrimination policy included sexual orientation and gender identity. In the context of Biden’s correlating executive order, the guidelines would likely require schools to allow bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams open to gender identity.
Brnovich asserted in a press release that the Biden administration’s actions are unlawful.
“USDA Choice applies to beef at the market, not to our children’s restrooms,” said Brnovich. “This threat of the Biden administration to withhold nutritional assistance for students whose schools do not submit to its extreme agenda is unlawful and despicable.”
Arizona’s lawsuit is part of a 22-state coalition led by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery. The remainder of the coalition includes Indiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Altogether, the 22 states receive over $28.6 billion in SNAP benefits for over 15.4 million individuals.
The states’ complaint asserted that President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to rewrite federal law in order to align with his January 2021 executive order to “prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity.” The lawsuit further asserted that the USDA circumvented the mandatory legal process outlined in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to implement their new guidelines.
The states described the new guidelines as “arbitrary, capricious, [and] an abuse of discretion.” Specifically, their lawsuit alleged that the Biden administration failed to observe procedures required by law for guideline updates, misinterpreted Title IX, violated anti-commandeering and non-delegation doctrines, and violated the Constitution’s Spending Clause, First Amendment, Tenth Amendment, and separation of powers.
“To be clear, the States do not deny benefits based on a household member’s sexual orientation or gender identity. But the States do challenge the unlawful and unnecessary new obligations and liabilities that the Memoranda and Final Rule attempt to impose — obligations that apparently stretch as far as ending sex-separated living facilities and athletics and mandating the use of biologically inaccurate preferred pronouns,” read the complaint. “Collectively, the Memoranda and Final Rule inappropriately expand the law far beyond what statutory text, regulatory requirements, judicial precedent, and the U.S. Constitution permit.”
Brnovich’s decision to join the coalition lawsuit wasn’t the only action Arizona officials took in response to the USDA guidelines. Earlier this month, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) introduced legislation to nullify the gender ideology compliance requirement.