Stories about Arizona

Arizona schools set to reopen in the fall

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced that schools in the state would reopen for in-person instruction in the fall. No firm start date was provided, but Ducey said the state would release guidelines for schools on June 1. Schools in the state have been closed to in-person instruction since March 15.

Forty-eight states were closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Those states account for 99.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country. The two states to not close schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year are Montana and Wyoming.

Arizona court clerk voted out of office in recall election

A recall election seeking to remove Cindy Woodman (R) from her position as Graham County Clerk of the Superior Court in Arizona was held on May 19, 2020. Heidi Torrio (R) and Marianne Clonts (R) filed to run against Woodman in the election. Torrio received the most votes with 67%, according to unofficial election night results. Clonts received 27%, and Woodman received 5%.

The recall effort started in September 2019. Recall organizers cited high turnover and lack of institutional knowledge as reasons to circulate petitions. They also cited a court ruling that found Woodman was derelict in her duties. Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel signed an order on October 11, 2019, that placed the Graham County Clerk of the Court’s Office under the direct supervision of Judge Michael Peterson. Woodman was prohibited from conducting clerk’s duties but continued to receive her full salary.

Woodman declined to comment on the recall effort, but Graham County Republican Party Chairman John Duane Rhodes spoke in support of her. Rhodes said that Woodman inherited a hostile work environment from her predecessor and that he believed she had done a good job despite the lack of training provided to her from the county.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall organizers had to collect signatures from at least 2,697 registered voters. They submitted 3,147 signatures on November 18, 2019, and enough signatures were deemed valid to schedule a recall election.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Ducey appoints four judges to Arizona Court of Appeals and Maricopa County Superior Court

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) made four judicial appointments on April 24, becoming the governor who has made the most judicial appointments in state history. Ducey has appointed 71 judges since taking office, overtaking the previous record of 68 appointments made by former Gov. Bruce Babbitt (D). Babbitt held office from 1978 to 1987. Ducey has been in office since 2015.

Ducey appointed Cynthia Bailey to the Arizona Court of Appeals, the state’s intermediate appellate court. Bailey replaces Diane Johnsen, who retired in January.

Ducey also appointed three judges to the Maricopa County Superior Court. Marvin Davis, Suzanne Nicholls, and Michael Rassas replace Karen O’Connor, Erin O’Brien Otis, and Jose Padilla, respectively. The vacancies were created when O’Connor retired and Otis and Padilla resigned. The judicial positions are nonpartisan, but media sources reported that Bailey, Nicholls, and Rassas are affiliated with the Republican Party, while Davis is affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Bailey’s elevation to the appellate court creates another vacancy on the Maricopa County Superior Court. The court began accepting applications at the end of April 2020 for Bailey’s seat and two other upcoming vacancies on the bench, which means Ducey will have at least several more judicial appointments to make before the summer starts.

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Recall launched against Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey over stay-at-home order

A recall petition was filed against Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on May 1 over his stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic. Supporters of the recall have up to 120 days—or no later than August 29, 2020—to collect the 594,111 signatures needed to force a recall election.

The recall effort is being organized by a group called Arizonans for Liberty. Marko Trickovic, Steve Daniels, and 2020 congressional candidate Josh Barnett filed the petition on May 1. According to the recall petition, Ducey has “committed a violation of his oath of office A.R.S. 38-231 by issuing an unconstitutional executive order, by unequally enforcing the law on Arizona citizens and businesses, and by failure to address citizens grievances.”

On April 29, Ducey announced that he was extending the state’s stay-at-home order through May 15. The order allows some retail establishments to reopen but other businesses such as bars, hair salons, and barbers are still prohibited. Ducey said that businesses that ignore his executive order and open early will face a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail.

In response to Ducey’s order, Trickovic said, “He literally declared war on the citizens of Arizona. The fact that he came out and said he would jail people for trying to earn a living and feed people, that’s a tyrant.” As of May 4, 2020, Ducey had not made a statement regarding the recall effort.

Arizona became a Republican trifecta in 2009. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the Arizona state House by a 31-29 margin and the state Senate by a 17-13 margin. Ducey was elected as Arizona’s governor in 2014 with 53.4% of the vote. He was re-elected in 2018 with 56.0% of the vote.

Four gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 21 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

Arizona extends stay-at-home order

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced that the state’s stay-at-home order, scheduled to end on April 30, was extended until May 15. Residents have been under a stay-at-home order since March 31. Before the extension, Arizona was one of nine states whose order was set to expire on April 30.

Ducey also announced that several nonessential retail businesses could begin providing drive-thru services on May 4. State parks, golf courses, and postal services will also be allowed to open on that date. Beginning May 8, those same businesses can begin offering in-store services as long as social distancing requirements are met.

Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting America’s political and civic life. Our coverage includes how federal, state, and local governments are responding, and the effects those responses are having on campaigns and elections.