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Cronkite News Election Coverage

Corporation Commission returns close but favoring Republicans

Republican incumbent Bob Stump and GOP candidates Robert “Bob” Burns and Susan Bitter Smith led a close race for three seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Unofficial returns showed the three ahead of two incumbent Democrats, Sandra Kennedy and Paul Newman, as well as Democrat Marcia Busching.

However, the race remains too close tonight for Cronkite News to project any winners.

It would be Stump’s second term on the five-member commission, which regulates the utility rates and services of gas, water, electricity and phone services, as well as railroad and pipeline safety.

Burns, former Arizona Senate president, is making his first run for commissioner.

Bitter Smith has been the executive director of the Arizona-New Mexico Cable Communications for 32 years. She previously served as the president of the Central Arizona Project, which helps deliver Colorado River water to Central Arizona cities.

Major media call Arizona Senate race for Flake

Major news outlets are projecting Republican Congressman Jeff Flake as the winner in the Arizona Senate race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl.

Unofficial returns show Flake with a large lead over Democrat Richard Carmona. While things look good for Flake, Cronkite News has yet to call the race based on the margin and ballots yet to be counted.

Flake currently represents a congressional district covering parts of Mesa and Chandler and all of Gilbert, Queen Creek and Apache Junction. He’s a fifth-generation Arizonan.

Carmona is a Democrat who served as U.S. surgeon general under President George W. Bush.

With national groups seeing the race as competitive, the campaign between Flake and Carmona featured heavy spending on negative advertising.

The allegations included Carmona being difficult to work with and tightly aligned with President Barack Obama. Attack ads portrayed Flake as a right-wing ideologue who has voted against support for veterans.

Flake touted his experience as a fiscal conservative who has led the charge against pork barrel spending.

Carmona is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He was recruited by the Tucson Medical Center and University of Arizona to establish Southern Arizona’s first regional trauma care system.

Matt Salmon wins Congressional District 5

Cronkite News reporter Cassondra Strande talks to Matt Salmon at the Republican headquarters in downtown Phoenix about what winning the Congressional District 5 race meant to him. (Cronkite NewsWatch Video)

Sinema addresses stay-at-home moms

At the watch party for Arizona Democrats, District 9 Congressional candidate Kyrsten Sinema told the crowd attack ads had it wrong.

Accused in opponent Vernon Parker’s commercials of holding stay-at-home moms in low regard, Sinema had a message for them.

“I would like you to know I respect you and I love you,” she said. “I respect your decision to stay at home, just like my mom did.”

In a tight contest, Sinema is holding out hope that she might win.

“We will keep our heads high and pray for every vote to be counted,” said Sinema, a former state senator.

Arpaio wins sixth term as Maricopa County sheriff


Sheriff Joe Arpaio addresses the crowd at the GOP watch party in Phoenix.
(Cronkite News Photo by Sarah Edelman)

Voters have elected Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to a sixth four-year term.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Arpaio leading his next closest opponent by a comfortable margin.

Arpaio, a Republican, faced Democrat Paul Penzone, a retired Phoenix police sergeant, and Independent Michael “Mike” Stauffer, who works for the Scottsdale Police Department.

Despite raising as much as 80 percent of his campaign’s $8.5 million coffers from out-of-state donors, Arpaio faced a growing Latino backlash due to his strict stance on immigration policies.

In office since 1993, Arpaio promotes himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” in part through made-for-media initiatives such as housing inmates in tents, making them wear pink underwear and feeding them green bologna.

Last year, Arpaio’s office had to reopen more than 400 sex-crime cases mostly in the El Mirage area. This year, Arpaio faced a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit alleging civil rights violations.

Grijalva wins sixth term in Congress

Cronkite News Service projects that Democrat Raúl Grijalva has defeated Republican Gabriela Saucedo Mercer in the 3rd Congressional District.

Grijalva has represented a broad section of southwestern Arizona for five terms. The redrawn district includes most areas he currently represents in the 7th Congressional District.

In weeks leading up to the election, Grijalva campaigned in favor of Arizona’s Proposition 204, which sought a 1 cent-per-dollar sales tax to support education, transportation and human services.

Mercer, a Mexican immigrant, has never held elected office.

In 2010, as Republicans regained control of the U.S. House, Grijalva was nearly unseated by a tea party-backed candidate.

The 3rd Congressional District stretches from western and southern portion of Tucson to Yuma and includes a portion of the West Valley.

2nd Congressional District still up in the air

Democrat Rep. Ron Barber and his Republican opponent Martha McSally are still waiting to see who will represent southeastern Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.

Unofficial returns show a narrow lead for Barber, former district director for Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Barber was critically injured in the January 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded Giffords and others.

After Giffords resigned to focus on her recovery, Barber won a special election in June to fill the seat.

Barber benefited from endorsements by Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly.

McSally is a retired Air Force colonel and pilot.

The redrawn 2nd Congressional District covers much of Tucson as well as Green Valley and Cochise County.

Voters approve Proposition 117 on property valuation for taxes

Voters have approved a ballot measure to limit increases in property valuation for taxes.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Proposition 117 leading by a wide margin.

The measure, which will take effect in 2015, calls for a 5 percent annual limit on how much the assessed value of properties can rise.

Supporters said it would shield owners from the kinds of spikes seen during the real estate bubble of the last decade and it would simplify Arizona’s property tax valuation system, one of the most complicated in the nation.

Opponents said the change would add uncertainty to the current tax system and allow unfair and inequitable taxation.

State land commissioner: Prop 119 victory will boost economy

Arizona State Land Commissioner Maria Baier says passage of Proposition 119 will help the state’s economy, its military bases and land-conservation efforts.

The measure will amend the state Constitution to allow exchanges of state trust land to preserve military bases.

“This is one of the biggest things that has happened in Arizona land management in a very long time,” Baier said. “It’s a triple win.”

Mignonne Hollis, executive director of the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation, said the measure would also help preserve Fort Huachuca, where the Army tests sensitive electronics.

“This means Fort Huachuca is secure, in a nutshell,” Hollis said.

Supporters also point to auxiliary airfields used by Luke Air Force Base as an example of what will be protected by the change.

The state Constitution currently requires that millions of acres of trust land managed by the state be leased or sold to benefit education and other causes. That prevents the federal government from trading land elsewhere for state lands that guard against encroachment around bases.

Daniel Hernandez, former aid to Gabriel Giffords talks about Flake, Carmona race

At Richard Carmona’s election party in Tucson, Cronkite News reporter Brittany Noble talks to Daniel Hernandez, former aid to Gabriel Giffords, about Carmona running against Jeff Flake in Arizona’s U.S. Senate race. (Cronkite NewsWatch Video)

1st Congressional District still too close to call

The contest for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District remains too close to call as Republican Jonathan Paton, a former state lawmaker and Iraq War veteran, and his Democratic opponent Ann Kirkpatrick wait for the last votes to come in.

Unofficial returns show Paton with a narrow lead.

Kirkpatrick, an attorney and former prosecutor, served two terms in the state Legislature before winning election to Congress in 2008.

The 1st Congressional District is one of the largest in the nation, extending from Cochise County to the Utah line.

Paton and Kirkpatrick engaged in a heated race that featured negative advertising, much of it funded by national groups that viewed the district as competitive.

Kirkpatrick portrayed Paton as a greedy lobbyist, while Paton presented Kirkpatrick’s record as a rubber stamp for President Barack Obama.

Voter rights hotline center buzzing nonstop on Election Day

WASHINGTON — Phones were ringing off the hook Tuesday at the Election Protection hotline headquarters in Washington, D.C., where organizers said they expected to meet or surpass the 100,000 calls they logged on Election Day 2008.

Every few seconds, a confused caller would phone in for help with everything from finding a polling place to answering a question about new voter ID laws to complaining about long lines.

Almost 75,000 phone calls had flowed into the hotline call centers nationwide by 5:30 p.m. EST, with polls on the West Coast and in Alaska and Hawaii still hours away from closing.

Many of the calls came from California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Florida – and Arizona.

Read the full story here

Long night in store for candidates in 9th Congressional District

With about half of ballots counted, the race is too close to call between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Vernon Parker in Arizona’s new U.S. District 9.

Unofficial returns show Sinema, a former state lawmaker, and Parker, a Paradise Valley councilman, in a near tie.

The 9th Congressional District is the only one in the state where independents outnumber registered voters from the major parties. Republicans slightly outnumber Democrats.

The campaign was heated. Sinema accused Parker of being against education, Social Security and Medicare.

Parker accused Sinema of being “too far out” to send to Congress. His commercials also called her a Socialist, biased against stay-at-home moms.

Arizona added a ninth seat in Congress based on the 2010 Census. The 9th Congressional District includes parts of Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa and Chandler.

Excitement at Democratic HQ as Obama results announced

Mydhq Crowd cheers at msnbc showing Obama with leading electoral votes
Democrats cheer as they watch an msnbc report showing Obama with leading electoral votes.
(Cronkite News Photo by Melanie Yamaguchi)

When networks announced that they were calling the presidential race for Barack Obama, the crowd at the state Democratic Party’s viewing event cheered wildly, jumping up and down and pumping their fists.

“I have never seen so much energy and passion as I have seen here tonight,”   Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.

Kyrsten Sinema talks about her campaign at the Democratic headquarters

Cronkite News reporter Caroline Porter talks to Kyrsten Sinema about the Congressional District 9 race at the Arizona Democratic Party event in downtown Phoenix. (Cronkite NewsWatch Video)

At Democrats’ party, a thank you for supporters

Cheers for Dems keeping control of senate
Cheers erupt at the Democratic headquarters. (Cronkite News Photo by John Bolmeier)

State House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said the Democratic Party’s celebration at the Renaissance Hotel is a way to thank volunteers and donors.

“It’s a night for all of us,” he said. “It’s just a good time for everyone to get together and watch the results.”

Campbell said the Democrats are optimistic but realistic.

“I’m hoping we pick up seats from the federal level to the state level,” Campbell added, “but right now we’re going to have a long night ahead of us.”

Republicans celebrate as Romney takes Arizona

The GOP headquarters in downtown Phoenix exploded with cheers after Republican Mitt Romney claimed victory in Arizona.

First-time voter Max Sobotka was excited to be a part of the celebrations at the Republican headquarters.

“It’s really cool to be a full citizen and participate in the process,” Sobotka said.

Sobotka, who lives in District 9, is hoping for a Vernan Parker victory.

Tom Morrisey, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, told the crowd to “pray hard for our country.”

“We’ve done everything we can and then some, so stay strong,” Morrisey said.

Also addressing the crowd was Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who said to “keep the faith” and that “every vote in Arizona counts.”

Voters reject sales tax for education, transportation, human services

Voters have rejected Proposition 204, a ballot measure to enact a permanent 1 cent-per-dollar sales tax to fund education, transportation projects and human services.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Proposition 204 trailing by a wide margin.

Most of the estimated $1 billion a year the measure would have raised was for education.

A temporary sales tax that Arizona voters approved in 2010 to support education is due to expire next year.

Proposition 204′s supporters said education needs a permanent revenue source that the Legislature can’t touch.

Opponents said the permanent sales tax would hurt the economy and restrict the Legislature’s ability to budget effectively.

Voters approve proposition to allow trust land exchanges to preserve bases

Voters have approved a ballot measure to allow swapping state trust land for federal land to preserve military bases.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Proposition 119 leading by a wide margin.

The state Constitution currently requires that millions of acres of trust land managed by the state be leased or sold to benefit education and other causes. That prevents the federal government from trading land elsewhere for state land that guard against encroachment around bases.

A broad coalition of state leaders, conservation groups, military leaders and ranchers helped develop Proposition 119. Supporters said the change would help preserve Fort Huachuca, where the Army tests sensitive electronics, and auxiliary airfields used by Luke Air Force Base.

Student supporters remain hopeful at the Democratic headquarters

MYDHQ Chaparral High School students hope Obama gets reelected. They like his healthcare plan and his support for students.
Chaparral High School students say they hope Obama gets re-elected because they like his healthcare plan and his support for students. (Cronkite News Photo by Melanie Yamaguchi)

Voters reject Proposition 121 on open primary system

Paul Johnson says this is not the last time we will hear about Proposition 121 (Cronkite NewsWatch Video)

Voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure to do away with Arizona’s partisan primary system in favor of open primaries advancing top vote-getters regardless of party.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Proposition 121 trailing by a wide margin.

The measure would have created a single primary for state and federal offices in which all candidates compete.

Supporters said the measure was intended, in part, to encourage candidates with more moderate views. They also said it would level the playing field for independent candidates by allowing them to compete in primaries.

Opponents said the change would marginalize third parties and lead to some general election races featuring candidates from only one political party.

Romney beats Obama in Arizona

Cronkite News projects that Republican Mitt Romney has defeated President Barack Obama in Arizona.

Unofficial returns show Romney with an insurmountable lead over Obama.

While Democrats early on suggested that Arizona could go for Obama, the president faced long odds. With the exception of Bill Clinton, who was seeking a second term in 1996, no Democrat since Harry S. Truman has won Arizona’s electoral votes.

Voters reject Proposition 120 on sovereignty over state resources

Voters have rejected a ballot measure to declare state sovereignty over Arizona’s forests and other natural resources.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Proposition 120 trailing by a wide margin.

The measure would have amended the Arizona Constitution to say that the state “declares its sovereign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within its boundaries.”

The proposition didn’t cover Native American reservations, national parks and military installations.

Supporters said sovereignty over forests, for example, would put Arizona in charge of managing logging and thinning to prevent catastrophes such as the 2011 Wallow Fire.

Opponents called the measure a land grab and argued that the state government is in no position to manage forests and other resources now controlled by the federal government.

Republicans react to Obama wins in New Hampshire, Utah

Republicans held their breath at Arizona’s GOP headquarters as they awaited results from New Hampshire. When Obama was announced as the winner, the crowd remained quiet.

But Max Frank is still optimistic.

“The feeling of the party is very electric,” Frank said. “People are excited.”

In response to Obama’s win in Utah, Marke Gerberich, also at the state’s Republican headquarters, said he didn’t think it was up for grabs.

“I’m more concerned about the swing states, but every state does get you closer to a win,” Gerberich said.

Schweikert wins election in redrawn 6th Congressional District

Voters have elected U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, a Republican, in the redrawn 6th Congressional District covering the north and northeastern portions of the Valley.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Schweikert leading three opponents by a wide margin.

Schweikert was the heavy favorite after defeating U.S. Rep. Ben Quayle in a contentious GOP primary. As reconstituted after the 2010 Census, the new 6th District included areas that both congressmen had represented.

Schweikert’s opponents were: Democrat Matt Jette; Libertarian Jack Anderson, who lost to Jette in the Democratic primary and switched parties; and the Green Party’s Mark Salazar.

Schweikert won election to Congress two years ago by ousting Democrat Harry Mitchell.

His new district includes parts of north Phoenix and Scottsdale as well as Fountain Hills.

Despite challenges, state election officials keep calm and carry on

WASHINGTON — Cronkite News Service is talking to secretaries of state and elections officials in states across the country for a roundup of this year’s closely watched elections, which were preceded by fights over tough new laws that prevented fraud or disenfranchised voters.

Read the full story here

Republican Salmon returns to Congress with win in 5th District

Republican Matt Salmon is returning to Congress after defeating Democrat Spencer Morgan in a district covering much of the East Valley.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Salmon leading by a wide margin.

A former state senator, Salmon represented an East Valley district in the U.S. House from 1995-2001 before honoring a promise to serve just four terms.

Salmon narrowly lost to Democrat Janet Napolitano in the 2002 Arizona governor’s race.

This year, he defeated former Kirk Adams, former speaker of the Arizona State House of Representatives, in the GOP primary for the redrawn district.

Morgan, a 26-year-old Gilbert Democrat, has never held an elected office.

District 5 includes parts of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Scottsdale.

Superintendent remains hopeful as Prop 204 votes come in

Roger S. Freeman remained hopeful about Prop. 204. (Cronkite News Photo by Danielle Verbrigghe)

While waiting for results of the Proposition 204 vote, the Superintendent of Littleton Elementary School District in western Maricopa County says he’s trying to stay hopeful.

The proposition, which would enact a permanent 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax to fund education, transportation projects and human services, was failing almost 3 to one as the first precincts reported.

Roger S. Freeman, speaking from the “Yes on 204″ campaign party, said negative ads released by the opposing campaign had a big influence on the election.

“We’re always hopeful,” he said. “When you don’t have money, you have to bank on hope.”

Voters reject Proposition 115 on judicial selection

Voters have rejected a ballot measure seeking sweeping changes in the system used to select and retain judges in Pima and Maricopa counties as well as appellate and Supreme Court judges.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Proposition 115 trailing by a wide margin.

The current merit selection system, applying to county Superior Courts with at least 250,000 residents as well as the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, uses nonpartisan commissions made up of five lawyers nominated by the State Bar of Arizona and 10 lay people. Those panels forward recommendations to the governor.

Proposition 115 would have made these and other changes to judicial merit selection:

– Increase the number of nominees forwarded to the governor.
- Remove a requirement that both political parties be represented among nominees.
– Reduce the role of the State Bar in appointing members of commissions while increasing the governor’s role.

Counties other than Maricopa and Pima will continue electing Superior Court judges.

Voters approve Proposition 114 on civil liability for crime victims

Voters have approved a ballot measure aimed at protecting crime victims from being sued by someone harmed while committing a felony or fleeing from the scene of a felony.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Proposition 114 leading by a wide margin.

The measure amends a section of the state Constitution that bans laws limiting the right to sue for death or injury.

A 1993 state law protected defendants in lawsuits from liability if the person claiming harm was involved in a felony in which they were at least 50 percent responsible.

But a 2006 Arizona Court of Appeals ruling repealed that because of the state Constitution’s ban on laws limiting the right to sue.

Republican Gosar wins re-election in redrawn 4th Congressional District

Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar has defeated Democrat Johnnie Robinson in the redrawn 4th Congressional District covering much of western Arizona.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Gosar leading by a wide margin.

Gosar, who owns a dentistry practice, ousted first-term U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, in 2010 in the 1st Congressional District.

He decided to seek re-election in the 4th District, which is considered friendlier territory for Republican candidates.

Robinson was making his first run for the U.S. House. Libertarian Joe Pamella and Richard Grayson of the American Elect Party also challenged Gosar.

The far-flung 4th Congressional District stretches from northwestern Arizona along the Colorado River to just north of Yuma and extends to include Prescott and areas north and east of the Valley.

Talking super PACs at the GOP headquarters

Stephen Viramontes speaks with Cronkite News reporter John Genovese about FreedomWorks and super PACs. (Cronkite NewsWatch Video)

Dem official: Could be days before results in key races

MYDhq Arizona Democratic Party communications director Frank Camacho says we won't really know who wins senate and congressional races due to 300-400,000 votes not being counted
Arizona Democratic Party communications director Frank Camacho says we won’t really know who wins senate and congressional races due to 300,000 to 400,000 votes not being counted. (Cronkite News Photo by Melanie Yamaguchi)

It’s an Arizona tradition that one or more races remains uncalled because of the large number of early ballots that voters drop off at polling places. County election officials have to verify each of those ballots.

Frank Camacho, communications director for the Arizona Democratic Party, said that could mean a long wait for results in the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Richard Carmona and Republican Congressman Jeff Flake and the 9th Congressional District covering parts of Phoenix and several East Valley cities.

“There are 300,000 to 400,000 votes that won’t get counted tonight because of provisional and early ballots,” Camacho said. “That could have widespread ramifications on the Senate race between Carmona and Flake and the House race between (Krysten) Sinema and (Vernon) Parker.”

Camacho was surprised that the watch party at the Renaissance Hotel was so well attended so quickly after the polls closed tonight.

“We’re quite happy,” he said. “That means we have quite a few enthusiastic Democrats out there.”

Camacho also predicted the president will be re-elected.

“Now how he’ll do in Arizona remains to be seen,” he said.

Democrat Pastor wins in redrawn 7th Congressional District

Voters have elected U.S. Rep. Edward “Ed” Pastor, a Democrat, in the redrawn 7th Congressional District.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Pastor leading Libertarian opponent Joe Cobb by a wide margin.

Pastor, a native Arizonan and a former chemistry teacher, has served in Congress since 1992. The 7th District covers includes much of Pastor’s current district, including the downtown Phoenix and areas south and west of downtown.

Cobb is an economist and former college instructor.

Pastor was first elected to Congress in a 1991 special election to fill a seat vacated by Morris “Mo” Udall. With tonight’s win, Pastor has earned a 12th term.

Pastor serves on the powerful Appropriations Committee and promotes his ability to win federal projects and funding for Arizona.

Franks wins in 8th Congressional District, will serve sixth term

Voters have elected Republican Trent Franks to a sixth term.

Cronkite News bases its projection on unofficial returns showing Franks winning by a wide margin in the 8th Congressional District, which covers suburbs north and west of Phoenix.

Franks faced Democrat Gene Scharer, a former teacher and truck driver, and third-party candidate Stephen Dolgos, an insurance agent.

Franks ran in a district redrawn according to the 2010 Census but still heavily Republican.

His accomplishments in Congress include helping bring the new F-35 fighter Luke Air Force Base.

Mood festive at GOP watch party despite no poll-close call for Romney

People gather at the Republican headquarters for election updates. (Cronkite News Photo by Donyelle Kesler)

Republicans are gathering at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix to await what they hope will be good news for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Senate candidate Jeff Flake and Republicans running in competitive congressional districts in Arizona.

However, one piece of good news the crowd had anticipated didn’t materialize: The networks didn’t project Arizona for Romney when polls closed at 7 p.m.

Rep. Justin Pierce, R-Mesa, said he’s eager to hear the results of Arizona races.

“In light of the national election, it’s overshadowed some of those,” he said.

Among the attendees: Pam Waugh and Marlene Stigsell, who said they were co-workers until both lost their jobs a year ago. Waugh said she is happy that Romney seems to be doing well around the country.

“I was surprised even a couple weeks ago when they were calling it close,” Stigsell said. “Republicans need to involve other groups. We’re not all rich. We’re far from rich. “

Sinema draws cheers upon arrival at Democratic watch party

Job dem hd
Kyrsten Sinema talking to a reporter at the Democratic headquarters. (Cronkite News Photo by John Bolmeier)

Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic candidate in the competitive 9th Congressional District, walked in to a few cheers at the Arizona Democratic Party event in downtown Phoenix. Wearing a turquoise dress and glasses, she was interviewed by the local ABC affiliate.

The room has filled about halfway, and the crowd erupted in cheers when Democratic candidates were declared projected winners on CNN. The crowd booed when states were projected for presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

John Goodie, a park ranger officer for the city of Mesa, said he’s at the victory party to support President Barack Obama.

“I expect him to dance right in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue again. I’d be totally disappointed if he didn’t make it, but you never know,” Goodie said. ”I support him because he is a man of the people. He’s all about the people, he’s a man of the middle class. I think people can relate to him better than Mitt Romney.”

Pro-Prop 121 leader: We’re optimistic, realistic

(Cronkite News Video by Sean Peick)

About 30 supporters of Proposition 121 have gathered at Tom’s Tavern in downtown Phoenix to watch results.

Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, a leader of the effort to create open primaries in Arizona, said supporters are upbeat but realistic given the amount of money contributed against the proposition of late.

“We are optimistic, but we recognize what’s happened in the last couple weeks,” Johnson said.

He’s referring to money from Americans for Responsible Leadership, an obscure Phoenix-based nonprofit that by law doesn’t have to disclose the sources of money it’s given. In all, the group has contributed at least $600,000 to the campaign against Proposition 121.

The measure would replace the current partisan primary system for state and federal offices with one primary advancing the top vote-getters regardless of party.

Getting the party started at Democratic HQ

MYDHQ Milly Franks of Gilbert says she hopes Obama and carminative win tonight
Milly Franks of Gilbert says she hopes Obama and Carmona win tonight.
(Cronkite News Photo by Melanie Yamaguchi)

At the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix, Democrats are gathering for the party’s official election celebration.

One early arrival is Milly Franks, a second-grade teacher from Gilbert. It’s her first time to attend a watch party.

“I wanted to see what it would be like with the Democrats when Obama wins tonight,” she said.  ”I hope some people will listen to the president to get some of these laws moving so the economy gets better. The economy is not good.”

Franks said she’s also cheering for Richard Carmona to defeat Republican Congressman Jeff Flake in Arizona’s U.S. Senate race.

“I think Flake said a lot of things that are untrue,” she said. “And I don’t like the name Flake.”

Despite advocates’ concerns, no reports of problems with Arizona poll watchers

Barry Buhan, a poll watcher registered with the Republican Party, stands outside a polling place at a west Phoenix school. “I’m just here to make sure everything runs smoothly,” he said.
(Cronkite News Photo by Natasha Khan)

GUADALUPE – After Margarita Cota voted Tuesday in this mostly Latino community, she sat outside a market and talked politics with friends.

She said she barely noticed the half-dozen people – partisan poll watchers, along with federal election monitors – who kept an eye on those casting ballots.

“They’re just sitting there quietly, not doing anything,” said Cota, Guadalupe’s former mayor. “It didn’t bother me.”

Cota, other voters and election workers at several precincts in majority-Latino areas of Phoenix, Tempe and Guadalupe said the presence of poll watchers wasn’t a big deal.

Democrats and left-leaning voter-rights groups had raised concerns that poll watchers mobilized by conservative groups like True the Vote nationally and Verify the Vote in Arizona would lead to voter intimidation and vote-suppression.

But Sam Wercinski, head of the Arizona Advocacy Network, which trained and mobilized hundreds of its own poll watchers in response, said he didn’t hear any reports of problems with poll watchers beyond isolated reports of people being rude.

“It doesn’t seem as bad as we prepared for,” Wercinski said.

Read the full story here

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