Races Tighten With Election Night Ballots; Substantial Amount Of Early Ballots Remain

Races Tighten With Election Night Ballots; Substantial Amount Of Early Ballots Remain

By Corinne Murdock |

The most highly-contested races tightened overnight after Election Day votes were counted, leaving a substantial number of early ballots left to process. 

In eight of these 13 races, Democrats lead Republicans. Total ballots processed numbered over 1.8 million, or 44 percent of total registered voters (over 4.1 million). Voter turnout in the 2018 midterms was over 2.4 million ballots cast (nearly 65 percent of the 3.7 million total registered voters).

In the Senate race, incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly leads Republican Blake Masters by nearly 90,000 votes, 51 to 46 percent.

In the gubernatorial race, Democrat Katie Hobbs leads Republican Kari Lake by over 11,700 votes, 50 to 49 percent.

In the secretary of state race, Democrat Adrian Fontes leads Republican Mark Finchem by over 84,500 votes, 52 to 47 percent.

In the attorney general race, Democrat Kris Mayes leads Republican Abraham Hamadeh by 4,000 votes, both sharing about 50 percent. 

In the state treasurer race, incumbent Republican Kimberly Yee leads Democrat Martín Quezada by 201,200 votes, 55 to 44 percent.

In the superintendent race, Republican Tom Horne leads incumbent Democrat Kathy Hoffman by nearly 7,700 votes, both sharing about 50 percent.

In the first congressional district, Democrat Jevin Hodge leads incumbent Republican David Schweikert by 4,400 votes, 51 to 49 percent.

In the second congressional district, Republican Eli Crane leads incumbent Democrat Tom O’Halleran by 18,700 votes, 53 percent to 46 percent.

In the third congressional district, incumbent Democrat Ruben Gallego leads Republican Jeff Nelson Zink by 47,300 votes, 76 to 24 percent.

In the fourth congressional district, incumbent Democrat Greg Stanton leads Republican Kelly Kooper by 24,400 votes, 57 percent to 43 percent.

In the fifth congressional district, incumbent Republican Andy Biggs leads by 38,200 votes, 56 to 38 percent.

In the sixth congressional district, Republican Juan Ciscomani leads Democrat Kirsten Engel by 2,400 votes, 50 to 49 percent.

In the seventh congressional district, incumbent Democrat Raúl Grijalva leads Republican Luis Pozzolo by nearly 34,000 votes, 64 to 36 percent.

Incumbents Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ-09) were unchallenged.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

AZ’s Congressional Delegation Wants State Funeral When Last WW2 Medal Of Honor Recipient Dies

AZ’s Congressional Delegation Wants State Funeral When Last WW2 Medal Of Honor Recipient Dies

By Terri Jo Neff |

All 11 members of Arizona’s Congressional delegation have come together to ask  President Joe Biden to approve a non-presidential state funeral when the last surviving Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from World War II passes away.

Hershel “Woody” Williams, who is 98, became the last living Medal of Honor recipient from World War II in April 2021. A state funeral would serve as a tribute to Williams’ heroic actions in battle as well as “each soldier that bravely fought for our country,” according to Rep. David Schweikert (AZ-06).  

“The heroes from World War II deserve every honor our country can give them, and that includes paying our respects to the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from this war when he dies,” Schweikert said Wednesday. “By doing this, our nation can offer a final honor and salute to Mr. Williams and the millions of American heroes from World War II.”

According to his biography, Williams served in the U.S. Marine Corps and took part in the Battle of Guam in 1944 and the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. It was for his heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima that President Harry S. Truman would later present Williams with the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest decoration of valor, from for actions “above and beyond the call of duty.”

After the war, Williams went to work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a counselor. He continued in the Marine Corps Reserve until 1969 and stayed with his VA job for more than three decades. The Navy warship USS Hershel “Woody” Williams was commissioned in March 2020.  

Four Arizonans received the Medal of Honor for their actions during World War II: Captain Joseph Foss, U.S. Marine Corps; Private First Class Silveste Herrera, U.S. Army; Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza, U.S. Army; and Sergeant Max Thompson, U.S. Army. https://avhof.org/inductees/medal-of-honor-recipients/

Also signing the letter to President Biden were Rep. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Rep. Debbie Lesko (AZ-08), and Rep. Greg Stanton (AZ-09).  Arizona’s two U.S. Senators signed too.   


Schweikert Signs Bipartisan Letter Supporting Extension Of Telehealth Services

Schweikert Signs Bipartisan Letter Supporting Extension Of Telehealth Services

By Terri Jo Neff |

With telehealth services growing in popularity and necessity during the pandemic, U.S. Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) has signed a letter with several members of Congress calling on House and Senate leadership to include an extension of Medicare pandemic telehealth authorities in upcoming government funding legislation.

The letter acknowledges that telehealth—or telemedicine as it is also called—has become an essential part of the health care system, especially in rural communities. Congress recognized the importance of such services when it passed COVID-19 legislation to increase access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries.

Telehealth services allows a physician or a specialist to provide healthcare without an in-person office visit. It also allows remote monitoring of a patient’s vital signs or other information, and provides for secure messaging or email with medical personnel.

But expanded access and funding for Medicare beneficiaries to utilize the services is temporary as it is tied to the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, which is renewed in three-month increments.

According to the Jan. 28 letter, extending the current coverage of Medicare telehealth services would provide much-needed certainty to health care providers and patients. It would also give Congress time to enact permanent telehealth legislation to keep up with the burgeoning industry.

“Ramping up telehealth requires significant costs and resources from health care providers,” the letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy states. “Without more definitive knowledge about the duration of the pandemic and Medicare’s long-term coverage of telehealth, many organizations have been hesitant to fully invest in telehealth.”

Permanent legislative reforms to telehealth services are included in various current bills under consideration, including the CONNECT for Health Act which has bipartisan support from over 170 members of Congress. Such long-term solutions are imperative to increase access to care, reduce costs, and improve health outcomes, the letter states.

“An extension of the telehealth authorities would provide assurance that the investments will be sustainable over the long term. It would also reassure patients that their care will not end abruptly,” it states.

Nearly four dozen lawmakers signed the letter supporting a telehealth pandemic extension. The signers run the gamut of political ideology, including Schweikert and fellow Representatives Bill Johnson (R-OH), Cheri Bustos (D-IL.), and Don Bacon (R-NE).

Signers from the U.S. Senate include Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). Both of Arizona’s Senators also signed.

Barto On Hand For Historic SCOTUS Abortion Hearing

Barto On Hand For Historic SCOTUS Abortion Hearing

By Corinne Murdock |

State Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) shared that she was the sole state legislator from Arizona in attendance at the rally outside the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) on Wednesday. Inside, the justices held a hearing for a watershed case in abortion law: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Their ruling is anticipated in the spring.

Barto told AZ Free News that the hearing was historic, as was the gathering outside the SCOTUS building advocating for an end to abortion. She said the rally was peaceful, and recounted how diverse their rally was: individuals reportedly represented from all across the political spectrum, the religious and non-religious, and a generational attendance from tikes to older adults such as herself.

“America has lived this lie long enough. Our laws need to be modernized to recognize [the science]: viability is different now, women are not burdened by pregnancy anymore. The greater standard is, of course, that our constitution needs to fit our laws and protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” observed Barto. “We will wait and see and keep praying for these justices to really follow the changing hearts in America, hearts that really have turned. People no longer support abortion through nine months; the more that they learn about what abortion does to women and the unborn in terms of pain, and how the development of an unborn child is trackable from the earliest moments in utero.”

The case brought by Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi abortion clinic challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks. On behalf of the defense, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch countered that SCOTUS should leave abortion law to individual states. A SCOTUS ruling in favor of Mississippi would overturn the precedent set by the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationally, Roe v. Wade, which was upheld in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey

The crux of the plaintiff’s arguments during the hearing concerned the need for SCOTUS to stand by precedent set in previous rulings, discussed as the question of “stare decisis.” They also insisted that the interests of the woman outweighed those of the state, especially prior to the viability of the unborn child.

The plaintiffs also admitted that they were arguing a constitutional right to abortion under the constitutional guarantee of liberty when pressed by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas as to what right they were arguing needed protecting. Previous SCOTUS rulings on abortion considered concepts entailing rights under the Constitution and various amendments, such as personhood, undue burdens, and privacy.

Founding Father James Wilson warned of licentiousness, a concept conflated with liberty but truly its antithesis. “Licentious,” or “license,” comes from the Latin term “licentia”: an unbridled, wanton, chaotic freedom. The distinction between liberty and license wasn’t made by anyone in the hearing. Wilson was one of the original SCOTUS justices, serving from the onset of its establishment by the Judiciary Act of 1789 until his death in 1798. 

“Liberty and happiness have a powerful enemy on each hand; on the one hand tyranny, on the other licentiousness. To guard against the latter, it is necessary to give the proper powers to government; and to guard against the former, it is necessary that those powers should be properly distributed,” asserted Wilson.

After the hearing, Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ-06) shared one of his floor statements from earlier this year describing how his life was saved when his birth mother chose life over abortion and gave him up for adoption.

“I was born in an unwed mother’s home – so was my brother, so was my sister. You’ve all met my little girl that came to us as a gift out of nowhere. But I’m 38 years old [at the time] and through a series of accidents, I get the phone number for my birth mother – and I call her. And the first words were just through the tears and this high-pitch almost – she was struggling, you could hear her almost hyperventilating – is: ‘I prayed for you every morning. Are you okay? Are you healthy, are you happy?’ And I’m crying on my side, saying, ‘I have a great life. Thank you for letting me live.’ […] My little girl’s third generation adopted, now. […] And we will get together with our birth moms and our moms. The amazing thing is my mom became best of friends with my birth mom. This is the American family of today – let’s love it and respect it.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Paws Off Act Will Save Lives Of Dogs From Poison Risk In Common Items

Paws Off Act Will Save Lives Of Dogs From Poison Risk In Common Items

By Terri Jo Neff |

With nearly 78 million dogs living in American homes, Congressman David Schweikert (AZ-06) and two of his Arizona colleagues introduced the Paws Off Act of 2021 on Tuesday aimed at requiring label warnings of the danger of Xylitol, a sugar-substitute found in sugar-free or lite foods and household products, but which can kill a dog if ingested.

According to Schweikert, there were more than 6, 700 poisoning-related calls to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) centers in 2020. And despite awareness campaign efforts by the Food and Drug Administration, most people are unaware Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and can cause serious illness, even death, if a quantity half the size of a sugar packet is ingested.

Xylitol, also known as birch sugar or sugar alcohol, is often found in breath mints, sugar-free gum, vitamins, cough drops, baked goods, ice cream, peanut butter, mouthwash, and toothpaste. It is also commonly used in fiber gummies, kids’ allergy medications, cough syrups, sugar-free jellies and candies, and dietary sleep aids.

In announcing the Paws Off Act, Schweikert noted the prevalence of Xylitol is increasing, thus making it harder for pet owners to identify which commonplace household items can be deadly for their dogs. The proposed federal legislation seeks to require labeling changes to ensure pet safety.

“With roughly 50% of American household’s owning one pet or more, it is vital that families be informed of the dangers many basic items and products can pose to their animal’s lives,” Schweikert said. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to heighten awareness around this chemical so that pets may remain protected.”

Under the legislation, Section 403 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act would be amended to address the need for labeling an item containing Xylitol with a warning of the toxic effect if ingested by dogs. A product would be considered “mislabeled” if the warning is missing.

In addition, the Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services would be required to ensure the Commissioner of Food and Drugs initiates the rulemaking process, with an interim rule due no later than six months after enactment of Paws Off Act of 2021. A final rule must then be issued “no later than one year after date of enactment of this Act.”

The proposed legislation has the support of the FDA and other groups which advocate for the care for dogs.

“For millions of American households our pets are family. And no family should lose a beloved dog because they didn’t realize a breath mint or toothpaste may be safe for human use but create a toxic reaction in dogs,” said Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Preventing these tragedies is why we support the Paws Off Act, and we thank Representative Schweikert and his bipartisan cosponsors for introducing this critical federal bill.”

Dr. José Arce, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, had similar praise for the effort.

“Despite the deadly harm Xylitol presents to dogs and other pets, it is frequently not listed in the ingredient label in products we use on an everyday basis,” said Arce. “We must enact the Paws Off Act of 2021 to inform the public about which products contain the artificial sweetener and the poisonous effect it has on our pets.”

Xylitol poisoning produces symptoms within 20 minutes in a healthy dog, such as vomiting, decreased activity level, weakness and collapse, difficulty walking or standing, shaking or seizures, bleeding problems, liver failure, and coma. Its impact can be more sudden -and severe- in older dogs and those with preexisting medical problems.