Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thoughts on Election Night

POTUS: First, congratulations to the president on his re-election.
Barack Obama is an extremely talented politician and he should be commended for pulling of a hard fought victory in the face of a lagging economy. There's no time to celebrate, though, as we inch ever closer to the fiscal cliff.

Flake earned this one: While his opponent coasted through an uncontested primary, Sen.-elect Jeff Flake had to duke it out with a self-funded primary challenger mounting a vanity campaign that left Flake a little battered and bruised going into the general. Then Flake had to contend with SuperPACs that threw the kitchen sink at him. But our next U.S. senator's boundless optimism and clear record of accomplishment in the House got him across the finish line with a strong victory, while his fellow GOP Senate candidates across the country badly under-performed. He's the absolute right pick to carry on the legacy of Jon Kyl in the U.S. Senate.

Psst, here's a stock pick for you: If you're into political futures markets, buy Doug Ducey stock. The state treasurer expertly guided the opposition to Proposition 204. He made a clear, convincing case to turn back a measure that would have saddled the state with high sales taxes and little accountability in how the money would be spent. For a guy only a few years removed from the executive suite, he's shown he can win statewide. He's definitely one to watch.

There's no I in team: The No on 204 camp assembled an outstanding team of political talent to stand shoulder to shoulder with Treasurer Ducey. From rising Arizona stars to veteran hands out of D.C., I can't recall a campaign that so quickly and efficiently took down its opposition.

No time for a victory lap: We might have successfully defeated 204, but there's no gloating here. I can speak with confidence that you'll see Arizona's job creators work to advance a positive education agenda in 2013 that couples proven reforms with fiscal accountability. As Bush 43 said when he was governor of Texas, education is to a state what national defense is to the federal government: it's job 1. We've made progress in bringing the Common Core online, Move on When Reading and strengthened teacher and principal assessment measures, but there's still more that can be done. And we're not afraid to acknowledge that some of these things will take money.

Speaker Tobin's new teammates: There is a great stable of young talent on Speaker Andy Tobin's team, and after this election, it's only gotten stronger. Paul Boyer, Ethan Orr and TJ Shope are joining a team that already includes great representatives like Justin Pierce, Justin Olson, JD Mesnard and Tom Forese.

You want Andy Tobin in your corner: Perhaps no one defends his fellow caucus members more vigorously than Andy Tobin. With a party fundraising structure that is basically defunct, the speaker wasn't going to let his legislators twist in the wind.  The speaker's a fighter, and he raised the resources that helped his teammates win some tough scrapes.

Thanks, Dad!:I was excited to see TJ pull out (what looks like) a nail-biter in the rural LD 8. You can credit his victory to over-performing in Democrat precincts and to his father, Coolidge Mayor Tom Shope, who let his son take lots of time off from the family grocery store to work incredibly hard on the campaign trail. TJ will be a commonsense voice for his rural district.

Steve Pierce's hard work pays off: He's unfairly been the target of barbs from local party "leaders", but Senate President Steve Pierce's work paid off. With a state GOP that is largely irrelevant, President Pierce and his team stepped into the breach to raise the funds necessary to defend tough challenges to Chester Crandell and John McComish. If it weren't for President Pierce, the Senate would look dramatically different. We should take the time to thank the president for all he's done this cycle.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

For those races that won't get big headlines...

Not every congressional race is coming down to the wire tonight. In fact, the vast majority of House races will see someone cruise to victory without breaking a sweat. But that’s not to say that the work of these members of Congress should go without recognition.

Ed Pastor, the dean of the delegation, might not get a lot of headlines, but his style harkens back to the old school. He has an open-door policy with his Arizona constituents and promotes an air of someone who is proud to do the job.

Trent Franks understands the issues that are important to his district, which is evidenced by his hard work to attract the F-35 to Luke AFB. He also understands that the defense of the nation is job one. On a personal note, I’ve always admired Trent’s unabashed and unwavering support for Israel.

David Schweikert isn’t likely to “go Washington,” in his House tenure. This is someone who puts his nose to grindstone and in his short time in Congress has shined a bright light on America’s economic troubles. His scary Power Point presentations makes every day a fiscal Halloween. It wouldn’t have been terrible to put David on during the Republican National Convention in primetime so folks at home could get a look at how perilous our perch on this fiscal cliff is. David takes job creation seriously, having lent a helping hand in attracting Silicon Valley Bank to Arizona.

Paul Gosar will be the new congressman from the huge new western Arizona district. His new constituents will come to know an earnest, hardworking congressman who brings an insight into the healthcare field few of his colleagues have. And we all owe Dr. Gosar a debt of gratitude for saving the U.S. House of Representatives from Ron Gould.

Finally, though he won’t be returning, Ben Quayle deserves a cheer for his enthusiastic embrace of free market principles during his time in Congress. Having had the chance to chair Ben’s economic advisory group, I got to see up close someone who understands that lower taxes, fewer regulations and more trade can be a powerful cocktail to help right our country’s ship.

Ben is also a member of one of our country’s great political families. I once was seated next to former Vice-President Dan Quayle on a flight. I only bugged him a few times as he worked his way through David McCollough’s 1776 and I likely flipped through another book about baseball. Several months later he was a speaker at an event I attended where he was asked about what he missed most about having served as vice president. “The plane,” he answered. I hope I didn’t have anything to do with that.  

Welcome back, Matt

In the late 90s I had the privilege of serving as Rep. Matt Salmon’s legislative director and chief of staff. Later, when Sen. Jon Kyl sought re-election in 2006, I was the executive director of the state GOP, which Matt chaired. To say that he has played a huge role in my professional life would be an understatement.

When Matt first went to Congress, he was part of the class of 1994. He was also one of the few that stuck to his pledge only to serve three terms.

Today, he’ll be re-elected to the U.S. House once again, 14 years after his last election. The Matt Salmon that will return to Washington in January will bring an insight into the energy sector that few of his colleagues possess. He will certainly be the House’s most pro-solar Republican, an advocate in an area where Arizona is already one of the nation’s leaders.

He’ll also be called upon, I am sure, to tap his knowledge of China and his Mandarin language skills to help negotiate what will be the most important bilateral relationship of the next decade and beyond.

And Matt will be a reliable pro-jobs vote in Congress. He knows that higher taxes and more regulations aren’t ingredients in a growing economy.

We are very fortunate to once again call Matt Salmon our congressman. Welcome back to the House, Matt.

$300,000 Hatchet Job

We will know soon enough if it works, but the unions and company completely carpet-bombed state Sen. John McComish.  Below is a letter that a number of McComish's friends in the job creation community have signed. 
If McComish gets through it is only as a result of his outstanding and independent service over the years and the work of the Republican Victory Fund.  Given that union groups have flooded the zone to defeat some of the most independent and, I dare say, moderate Republicans in the Legislature, it will be interesting to see what soon will transpire at the Capitol next session. 

Chambers, business organizations stand with John McComish

As leaders of chambers of commerce and leading business organizations in Arizona we find it outrageous that to date over $300,000 of union and other outside money has been injected into the state Senate contest between Sen. John McComish and his opponent to attack the character of the sitting senator.  The attacks present an entirely misleading portrait of one of the most thoughtful, independent members of our state Legislature.  

Saying John McComish is extreme is totally false and without any backing.

It is accurate to say, however, that John McComish is almost a sure “yes” vote for any sort of job-creation legislation. He supported the landmark economic competitiveness bills of 2011 and 2012 that have resulted in Arizona catapulting to the top ten ranking for Chief Executive Magazine and number 1 in terms of entrepreneurial activity according to the Kaufmann Foundation.  Just as important, after Arizona sustained historic job losses in the Great Recession, we have now added tens of thousands of those jobs back.

He also has been a great friend to education.  He voted for the ballot referral to pump additional money into education when our economy cratered.  Sen. McComish also succeeded in getting $40 million inserted into this year’s budget to help boost the reading ability of Arizona 3rd-graders as part of the state’s Move on When Reading program.

His independent streak was on full display when he courageously voted against five wrongheaded immigration bills brought to the Senate floor by leadership that would have caused great harm to Arizona’s economy and reputation.

The editors of the Southeast Valley section of The Arizona Republic titled its headline in endorsing John McComish, “Independent McComish deserves re-election for D-18 Senate.” The paper endorsement read, “John McComish is a rare breed in the state Senate. He’s an independent voice, unafraid to go against influential members of his Republican caucus. That’s why it’s so important to keep him in the District 18 Senate seat.”

There could be no worse target of attacks than John McComish.  It is important for the public to know that this is simply a smear campaign without merit.

We urge you to vote to return John McComish to the state Senate so that he can continue his great work on behalf of Arizona.

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
Greater Phoenix Leadership
North Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce
Glendale Chamber of Commerce
Tempe Chamber of Commerce
Pinetop-Lakeside Chamber of Commerce
Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce
Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce
Chandler Chamber of Commerce
Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce
Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce
Ajo Chamber of Commerce

Monday, November 5, 2012

U.S. House a Republican Lock; U.S. Senate, Not So Much

Over the next 72 hours or so, I’ll be sharing my Election Day thoughts, including previews and postgame wrap-up.

The U.S. House 

There was a point in time about a month ago where a flip of control of the U.S. House seemed possible. But now it’s a virtual lock that the GOP will stay in control of the House. has the chances at 96 percent of the House remaining in GOP control. If the president gets re-elected, that legislative firewall stays in place. I believe Mitt Romney’s first debate performance and his campaign throughout October is the leading factor. A firewall offers some protection (no more bad legislation and the opportunity for congressional oversight on agency actions) to job creators, but would still leave in place the worst elements inside agencies like the EPA and NLRB.

The U.S. Senate

On the Senate side, what looked early on like a free throw to gain control of the Senate quickly turned into a half-court shot scenario for Republicans. GOP nominees Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock not only frittered away their chance at a US Senate seat, but also caused an election that should have been about an economy crawling along and 40-straight months of 8 percent or higher unemployment to instead get hijacked by a series of outrageous and offensive comments. It’s undisciplined gaffes like these that should cause both parties should think long and hard about their 2014 candidate recruitment efforts. No one wants scripted automatons running for office, but candidates should engage their brains before they decide to wax philosophical about divisive issues.  

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kyl and McCain propose solution to sequestration

If you have the opportunity, please take a look at Thursday’s editorial in the Wall Street Journal that looks at the coming automatic and drastic spending cuts that are about to hit the Department of Defense.

As I wrote in a recent column, the formal name for these automatic cuts is called sequestration, a budgetary tool in the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act of 1985. By this process, money to be doled to government agencies based on congressional appropriations is “sequestered” by the Treasury.

These are across-the-board cuts, affecting everything from the Department of Defense to subsidized school lunch programs.

The cuts are all a result of Congress and the president failing to agree to a debt reduction plan under the Budget Control Act of 2011. You’ll recall this is the law that gave us the so-called Supercommittee.

The Arizona Republic this week reported on a George Mason University study that Arizona stands to lose nearly 50,000 jobs. The Phoenix Business Journal, citing a separate National Association of Manufacturers analysis, reported that the state could be facing cuts of up to over 100,000 jobs.

These cuts could be absolutely devastating to our state’s economy, the nation’s economy and, most importantly, to our nation’s defense and standing in the world.
I applaud Sen. John McCain, Sen. Jon Kyl and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton for sounding the alarm bells over these cuts. Sens. McCain and Kyl together have introduced legislation that offers $109.3 billion in offsets required to replace one year of defense and non-defense sequestration. Their bill seeks to replace every three retiring federal employees with only two new hires, and it would freeze federal salaries through June of 2014. Mayor Stanton has been heading up a task force for the U.S. Conference of Mayors that is assessing what sequestration will mean for America’s cities, joining mayors from around the nation in warning of the damage these cuts could inflict on the nation during a time of tepid economic recovery.

The chatter in some corners is that the president and Congress will work out some sort of deal to avoid sequestration, but companies are already poised to issue layoff notices in anticipation of the fast-approaching January 2 deadline.

But uncertainty is exactly the opposite of what businesses need to grow and prosper. Whether it's the implementation of the health care law, these defense cuts, or whether we're staring down a huge tax hike (see the NAM briefing below), do we really want to engage in this high stakes game of chicken?

If you were running for re-election, is this the kind of news you’d want to campaign on?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Reflections on a citizenship ceremony

From Katie Whitchurch, Director of Government Relations:

Earlier this afternoon, I stood in the upper gallery of a courtroom in the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse in downtown Phoenix and watched as 99 people from 37 different countries took the oath of citizenship.

Ninety-nine people in every shape, size, age and nationality, but each story we heard was the same: America was a land of opportunity and freedom. One man had left his birth home due to repression, one woman had come to America simply for the chance at a better life. Each though, spoke with a quavering voice as they expressed their pride in being able to truly call this land home. During the national anthem I watched as a woman in a wheelchair, unable to stand on her own, enlisted the help of fellow participants to stand and hold her hand over her heart. After the President’s message, God Bless the USA played over the loud speakers and a court clerk rushed tissue paper over to a young man in the second row who had been brought to tears.

To the 99 newest citizens of this great country, February 3 will forever be a special day. For those of us blessed enough to already call this nation home, it is a good time to reflect on the fact that, despite our occasional disagreements, this is a place that the world looks upon for leadership, freedom and peace.

If you have never experienced a citizenship ceremony before, I encourage you to do so. The flood of 37 different accents pledging allegiance to the flag, for the first time as citizens, is an incredible and moving experience. 

Participants are led through the oath of citizenship

Are we focused on recovery?

 By Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Mark Dobbins

I believe I have observed a new truth. That is, the 2012 US Presidential campaign seems only to mock economic reality.

Reality for the vast majority of Americans is neither politically left or right. The people I know and those I meet in this great state of Arizona seem to be reasonably levelheaded when it comes to the basics of the economy. They want a decent well-paying job, a sound and affordable education for their children, a level financial playing field where healthcare and homeownership are a given for working families and not an unreachable goal.

Now being the eternal optimist, I have set myself a target to listen more closely for which candidate of either party who will show reality-based paths to a meaningful and sustainable economic recovery.

Three years ago the vision was hope and change. What we got from a business standpoint was a politically correct face to the nation’s wellbeing, while setting the wolves of big government regulars like the EPA and NLRB loose to impede or stop the recovery process in the name of social ideology.

For me, the issue is not ideology. The issue is not substituting one set of personal beliefs for another. We need strong and effective leadership.  I don’t believe partisan politics bears any resemblance to statesmanship or effective leadership. The issue is what is economic reality for early 21st century Americans. Is there someone out there who can lead us to address:
  • National security- It would be wonderful if this was not a necessary top priority.
  • Affordable Healthcare – One size does not fit all.
  • Affordable Relevant /Education systems- Over 30% of Arizona’s high school students fail to graduate. The nearly 70% who do may not have relevant job skills.
  • Homeowner debt and the mortgage crisis

Well, so much for my national observations.  We have our own heavy load here at home in Arizona to balance our fragile recovery. Let’s help set the bar high by addressing economic realities as our primary focus to speed a full recovery and create the foundation for a more resilient future economy. Let’s walk the talk and give full attention to issues that have a direct and meaningful relationship to creating high wage jobs. Together we will build a better Arizona.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Alert - New Arizona Minimum Wage

From our friends at Greenberg Traurig:
Effective January 1, 2012, Arizona's minimum wage increased to $7.65 per hour, an increase of $0.30 per hour from the previous minimum wage. This increase applies to most Arizona employers.  
In 2006, Arizona voters approved Proposition 202, which set a state minimum wage that is tied to fluctuations in the U.S. Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index. Before Proposition 202, Arizona did not have a state minimum wage, and instead the federal minimum wage - currently $7.25 per hour - applied to most Arizona employers. Based on the 3.8% increase in the CPI from August 2010 to August 2011, in October 2011, the Arizona Industrial Commission resolved to increase the minimum wage for calendar year 2012 by $0.30…
You can find the full press release here. Included are links to the new labor poster from the Industrial Commission as well as contacts at Greenberg Traurig for further questions.