Calling Out Crazy and Dangerous

We’re being told that January 6, 2021 will be the next opportunity for President Trump to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. That’s when both houses of Congress will convene to count and certify the results of the Electoral College.

Trump supporters are banking on Vice President Pence to hear the objections of members of the House and Senate before pushing for an alternative to the long-held historical practice of finalizing the vote and selecting the next President of the United States.

President Trump and his army of supporters are leaning heavily on Vice President Pence to thwart this process and re-elect Donald J. Trump as the next President. Social media is ablaze with speculation about what will happen and the consequences of Pence’s action.

We’re hearing that riots will break out across America as the left sets fire to anything their torches touch. This is not hard to believe since the left has a track record of hyper-emotional reaction and violence to events to which they object.

On my Twitter feed, I’ve been clear that I don’t expect anything to change with regard to our election results. (I’ve been working in elections for over 30 years.) Our system works pretty well, especially here in Arizona and frankly, Democrats were motivated to kick DJT out of the White House.

Some of my fellow Republicans – and I use that term questionably since many of them behave more like they’re in a cult – have said that if Pence doesn’t fall in line with his boss, their will be an uprising across America. In other words, they plan on unleashing a rebellion.

I don’t believe it.

When they claim they’ll start another civil war, I don’t think they have the conviction let alone fortitude to do so. Most of them would rather head down to the State Capitol and hold another rally in which they complain about the election while waving Gadsden flags and making speeches. These are the patriots on paper.

But there are others using anonymous online identities making threats of rebellion and all-out war to defend the Dear Leader. These are the dangerous and crazy ones and they need to be called out.

In this country, we have an institution called the Rule of Law and when you follow it and exhaust it, you need to respect it and its final outcome. It’s how we govern here in America.

This author in no way advocates for violence, let alone civil unrest or war. If you do not like the outcome of our elections, legal rulings or legislative process, you have other peaceful forms of protest available.

Senators Sinema and Kelly Should Support Liability Protections for Businesses

By. Dr. Ed Ackerley

While the presidential transition is taking up most news headlines, everyday Arizonans are struggling to make ends meet and keep their businesses afloat. While the positions being filled by the next administration are important, elected officials have a duty to their constituents to continue working to address the problems we are currently experiencing. 

One of the biggest issues we are facing in the state is the economic devastation resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Arizona’s current unemployment rate is hovering at around 8%, above the national average. And as temporary business closures are declining, we are seeing a tragic rise in permanent closures. According to the latest Yelp survey data, Arizona ranks 4th in the nation for permanent business closures.

While these statistics are obviously alarming, statistics cannot truly encompass the tragedy of small business owners who have spent years, or decades, building a successful business only to have it ripped out from underneath them in six months because of something totally outside of their control. 

This is why it is critical for our elected officials to do everything in their power to protect and support small businesses. One way Congress can help small businesses is by passing reasonable liability protections from unfounded COVID-related lawsuits in the upcoming coronavirus relief package. This policy is of particular importance for essential businesses that have remained open throughout the pandemic to continue providing critical goods and services to our communities.

Right now, businesses, particularly those that have stayed open, are at increased risk of being sued by patrons claiming they contracted the virus at a particular establishment. While the virus is so widespread that it would be difficult for a defendant to prove their case in court, the legal fees required to fight back against unwarranted lawsuits could put a small business out of business for good. Lawyers have already increased their advertising encouraging people to file coronavirus-related lawsuits, so we can expect to see even more than the 6,500 claims already filed.

And it’s not just small businesses that are in need of reasonable protections from unfair lawsuits. Without COVID Liability Protection, Arizona schools could also face possible COVID Lawsuits.

This important discussion happened on the state level earlier this year. A COVID-19 business-liability protection bill passed the Arizona House in April, but unfortunately did not pass the Senate before the legislative session ended. While it would be helpful to pass this bill on the state level, it would be much more effective to pass liability protections on the federal level, since many businesses operate in multiple states, and a patchwork of regulations increases the financial burden on already struggling businesses. 

Thankfully, there is still time for Congress to provide businesses with commonsense, liability protection from unfounded coronavirus-related lawsuits, while ensuring we can still hold bad actors accountable. Hopefully, our home state Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly will stand behind Arizona businesses by supporting reasonable liability protections in any coronavirus relief package that comes before the Senate.

Dr. Ed Ackerley is the President of the Tucson Business Owners group.

Hold Congress Accountable on COVID-19 Spending

By Lea Márquez Peterson

You and I may have voted for different people in this election, but I bet we’re both hoping for the same outcome—good government led by responsible, trustworthy lawmakers, whatever their politics.

Character counts with voters because we recognize that government can be a breeding ground for fraud, corruption, and abuse of taxpayer funds, especially when powerful interests are involved. When nearly $3 trillion is up for grabs, the potential for waste and misuse is astronomical—but that’s exactly the situation we’re in with COVID-19. 

The U.S has allocated at least $2.9 trillion to save small businesses, help families, and keep the economy going through this pandemic, not to mention treating and finding a cure for the disease. Of that amount, however, some $1.4 trillion has been spent without any accounting to the American people of where, and to whom, it went.

We do know some things. For example, we learned that large corporations like Shake Shack[1] worth $2 billion also received PPP loans meant for struggling small businesses[2].

Small businesses are far less likely to receive low-interest, forgivable loans to help them survive and pay employees. Especially minority-owned ones. While PPP loans worth millions were handed out to companies that didn’t truly need them, only 12 percent of Hispanic and Black applicants in the US got loans they requested, even though over half asked for $20,000 or less.[3] And, in Arizona, where 27.2 billion was spent, only 4.1% went to Black applicants and 31.1% to Hispanic business owners[4].

Other things we know about COVID-19 spending have been compiled by the Project on Government Oversight in a readily searchable format online. Arizonans can use this tool to discover who benefitted from a vast array of pandemic-related government programs.

To be fair, some initial hiccups with COVID-19 relief were understandable. Lawmakers had to rush into action when coronavirus emerged and they lacked the luxury of time to craft the best legislation possible. However, continued obstruction of meaningful oversight and failure to patch trouble spots cannot be excused so easily.

This is not just water under the bridge, either. A still raging pandemic and faltering economic rebound make trillions more in COVID-19 stimulus extremely likely. There is also movement afoot to repurpose $130 billion left in the fraud- and abuse-laden PPP. 

We should not allow Congress to commit such enormous sums without straightforward answers about all coronavirus spending to date. We must also demand stringent safeguards to ensure additional funds are managed more responsibly so that meaningful assistance can reach small businesses and families in need.

Lea Márquez Peterson is the former President of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber and a Commissioner on the Arizona Corporation Commission. 


[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/which-companies-are-returning-their-ppp-loan-here-s-list-n1194566

[2] https://www.12news.com/article/money/ppp-loans-released/75-cf905bec-53ee-4f13-a306-f157856d3ef4

[3] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/paycheck-protection-program-black-hispanic-business-owners-shut-out-survey/

[4] https://beta.covidtracker.pogo.org/

Congress: Let Big Tech Help Small Business

Written by: Jake Ward

Amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression — when leaders should be boosting our economy and helping small businesses — a congressional subcommittee chair is instead playing politics and small businesses will pay the price.

In an extraordinary rebuke of American innovators and our global technology leadership, Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D) just released a report on “Big Tech” that recommends Congress punish success by forcibly dismantling America’s leading technology companies. More importantly, he ignores the invaluable partnership between those tech leaders and millions of American small businesses.

Research and common sense tell us that smart use of digital tools and online marketplaces drives small business success. In the best of times, businesses that use affordable, scalable small business tools grow faster and have higher revenue and profits. In a pandemic, access to these tools may be the difference between staying in or bankruptcy.

According to Digitally Driven, a survey of more than 7,000 small businesses, tools that enable e-commerce, digital marketing, more efficient operations and working from home give American small businesses a fighting chance during the COVID recession.

They form a Digital Safety Net, as businesses that embrace them anticipate four times better revenue than those that don’t. Additional research documents that online marketplaces provided more than $145 billion in value in 2018 and likely twice that during the COVID pandemic.

By rejecting the data, Cicilline’s report is wrong from its thesis to the conclusion. Government concerns of tech-industry monopolies and market dominance are always built on quicksand.

Remember Yahoo, AOL and MySpace? Zoom was virtually unknown in February but now is synonymous with video conferencing as Kleenex is with tissues. To assert that there is no competition in technology is to ignore recent history.

At the heart of Cicilline’s recommendations is a “single-line of business rule” for digital platforms and marketplaces. This “Glass-Steagall for the Internet” proposal may be clever branding, but really it is a bad analogy built on faulty mythology twisted into bad public policy.

The legend was that banks’ bad investments using consumer deposits caused the Great Depression, and the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 was intended to prevent banks from gambling with consumer deposits again. But today’s digital economy is not causing a Depression or the COVID recession. Digital platforms are delivering billions of dollars of value to consumers and small businesses and justifiably have been embraced as a result.

Another absurd proposal would ban digital marketplaces from showing any preference for their own products. But grocery and department stores have been selling their own brands alongside third-party products for decades. Will Congress also require store-brand cereal to be on supermarkets’ top shelves so consumers are less likely to find it?

The Cicilline proposal is a square peg in the modern economy’s round hole, and the resulting chaos will create inefficiencies and force higher prices for online ads, marketplaces, business collaboration tools, and many more services that today work brilliantly for millions of small businesses.

Despite the obvious evidence of tech industry competition and value, including digital platforms’ fierce competition for small business advertising, marketing, and software dollars, Rep. Cicilline is not convinced.

Or perhaps he is simply too busy headlining fundraisers as a modern-day trust-buster to pay attention to the substantive details and data. Is it any wonder that he is releasing the report while the media is occupied with the pandemic, Supreme Court and election?

Regulations are not inherently bad, and antitrust law is essential to protecting consumers. But the wrong regulations for the wrong reasons at the wrong time will have unintended consequences.

Forcibly breaking apart digital platforms will eliminate the gains that many small businesses have enjoyed for nearly a decade. The competition debate cannot just be about the “big” in Big Tech, as these platforms’ size and scale are precisely what enables them to provide small businesses with high-quality tools and services at affordable prices.

The debate about Big Tech must include Main Street and the millions of small businesses that are the backbone of our economy and will drive our economic recovery.

Connected Commerce Council Releases New Report: Arizona’s Digitally Savvy Small Businesses Outperform During Pandemic

Washington, D.C. (September 08, 2020): The Connected Commerce Council (3C) today released a report detailing how small businesses nationwide that embraced digital tools early are generating more revenue than their peers, and that Arizona small businesses are using digital tools more and expecting 2020 revenue that exceeds the national averages. The report highlights the existence and importance of the small business “Digital Safety Net,” which 3C defines as the free and low-cost small business services that include communications and workflow tools, digital marketing and advertising, websites and social media, back-office tools, and e-commerce and online payment tools.

Digitally Driven shows that nationally small businesses that embraced digital tools the earliest – “Digital Drivers” – expect 4x better revenue for 2020 compared to “Digital Maintainers,” those who are generally skeptical of digital tools’ value and typically use only a few basic tools such as email and perhaps a website. In Arizona, 49% of small businesses are digital drivers compared to 35% nationally with a predicted 9.75% in revenue reduction compared to an expected 16% reduction in revenue nationally.

“In times like these, when in-person commerce is limited, if not impossible, and working from home is the norm, digital tools literally are a safety net preventing deeper small business calamity,” said 3C President Jake Ward. “The Digital Safety Net is real. However, the net could — and must — be bigger, more robust, and more inclusive. Small businesses must invest time in selecting the right digital tools for their business; technology companies must help small businesses access the right tools; and policymakers must invest more money in public-private partnerships that create and support small business resource networks.”

Other key findings in the report include:

In addition to the 49% that were digital drivers:

  • 23% of Arizona small businesses are “Digital Adopters.” They recognize the value of digital tools and are using some, but are not fully committed to digital, compared to 33% nationally
  •  24% of Arizona small businesses are “Digital Maintainers.” They are generally skeptical of digital tools’ value or are tech-nervous, and typically only use a few basic tools such as email and perhaps a website, compared to 33% nationally

Comparing the 50 states, those with a higher incidence of Digital Drivers show stronger small businesses resiliency than those states with more Adopters and Maintainers.

  • The states with the most Drivers and best-expected 2020 revenue are:

Nevada (63% Drivers, 5.26% revenue growth)

Alabama (51% Drivers, 6.61% revenue reduction)

Arizona (49% Drivers, 9.75% revenue reduction)

Georgia (40% Drivers, 10.75% revenue reduction)

Colorado (47% Drivers, 12.45% revenue reduction)

  • 71% of Arizona small businesses increased their use of digital tools during the pandemic, compared to 72% nationally.
  • Pre-COVID-19, 69% of Arizona small businesses found digital tools either “essential” or “important” to their business, compared to 68% nationally.
  • Arizona small businesses cited three key challenges to adopting and expanding their use of digital tools: 37% cite being unsure about return on investment, 52% cite cost, and 56% cite information and skills gaps.

“When COVID-19 hit, I was seriously concerned about the future of my business,” said Eli Crane of Bottle Breacher in Tucson, Ariz. “Luckily, we were already familiar with a number of digital tools that proved critically important during the crisis. These tools were definitely instrumental to our survival.”

The report also recommends that small businesses maximize their digital tool use and become better prepared for the next crisis, and provides a playbook for tech platforms, governments, and NGOs to support small businesses today and into the future.

For small businesses, it is critical to identify their goals, gaps, and precise needs to ensure they are investing in the right digital tools – not the most popular or least expensive options. For technology companies, helping small businesses discover which digital tools they need and
providing confidence-building skills training and user-friendly support materials will help with the knowledge gap that prevents many companies from taking the digital plunge. And for policymakers, the need is to increase funding of small business resources and create public-private partnerships to address access and education barriers that small businesses experience during tough economic times.

Digitally Driven, commissioned by 3C in conjunction with Google and Greenberg, is based on findings from a nationwide survey of 7,021 small businesses that were still in business, including a representative sample from every state in the country. Data are weighted by gender, ethnicity, region, business size, and vertical, to ensure an accurate national representation. The survey was fielded online and by phone between May 28 and July 3, 2020.

The full report can be found here.
A summary of the report and its key findings for Arizona can be found here.

About 3C: The Connected Commerce Council is a non-profit membership organization with a single goal: to promote small businesses’ access to essential digital technologies and tools. 3C provides small businesses with access to the market’s most effective digital tools available, provides coaching to optimize growth and efficiency, and cultivates a policy environment that considers and respects the interests of today’s small businesses.

How America Gets Its First Black Woman President

The real question is will she be a Republican or Democrat?

Time for a crazy political scenario. This spins off insider speculation that Trump will pull out of his re-election bid before he loses. It may sound far-fetched but we do live in crazy political times.

Trump is going to lose the 2020 election. He knows this and I believe the Republican Establishment knows it too. It’s inevitable and as many of us have been warning since 2015, the man has brought it on himself.

Trump is a quitter, especially when the going gets tough. And the tough is really going tough and tougher. Some Phoenicians remember when he pulled out of the development of a high rise in the Biltmore area. He knew when to cut his losses and move on. That’s what savvy business leaders do. He’s been that way his entire life. Bankruptcy after bankruptcy, change of plan after change of plan. He’s won some and he’s walked away. Running the country has become too much of a hassle for someone who has always sought leisure and pleasure and maybe it’s just not worth it to him anymore.

That’s just Trumps modus operandi and its how some deal-cutting New Yorker’s operate.

Right now the political heat has reached temperatures I think he’s no longer willing to tolerate.

At the same time, the GOP Establishment is worried, very worried. Arizona is likely to lose its other US Senate seat – the first time in decades Arizona may have two Democrats in the US Senate. Other Republican Senators across the country are panicking.

The “Trump Effect” we warned about flipped the House in 2018 and is about to flip many seats in the Senate. Arizona is on the verge of turning blue. We warned you.

So how do we get an African-American woman as our next President? Indulge me.

Knowing the election is going down, Trump and the Republican Establishment gather and conclude there’s only one way to possibly save the presidency – elevate Mike Pence through the resignation of Donald J. Trump. It’s all done quickly before most states issue early ballots – mid- September – leading to a real “October Surprise.”

Prior to the Trump exit, Biden picks his VP. He’s already announced it will be a woman of color and one of the names floated has been former Obama advisor and Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. It works for Biden because he already knows her well, she brings foreign policy experience to the ticket, can protect her former boss from Republican investigations and frankly, delivers on a promise.

Republicans in a free fall with Mike Pence at the top of the ticket, counter with a strategic move. They call up former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice. It’s one final push to hold the election and make a statement about the Republican party’s diversity.

Biden has Susan Rice, Pence has Condoleezza Rice. Coincidence?

On to Election Day and the answer of whether the first African-American woman President will be a Republican or Democrat. I don’t know.

In the first scenario, Mike Pence holds the presidency, barely. Americans were tired of all the Trump drama but were also willing to forgive Pence for his guilt by association.

Unfortunately, the US Congress doesn’t hold the same sentiment.

The Senate, now flipped, has the numbers to convict a sitting Republican President. The US House, even more democratic, impeaches Pence on the impeachable offense du jour. The vote heads to the Senate and this time, Democrats are successful in convicting the nicest man to ever become President. Vice President Condoleezza Rice becomes the first Republican African-American woman President.

The second scenario unfolds with the election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. There’s only one problem and everyone knows it. Joe Biden’s mental capacity is waning. Republican leadership in the House and Senate calls for the removal or resignation of the President. Welcome to the 2020’s where impeachment is now weaponized. The hesitation by the American people in electing Biden in the first place becomes a reality and the calls for resignation grow louder. Democrats quietly push for his exit to save the party embarrassment but mainly to elevate the first woman of color into the White House. Susan Rice becomes the first Democrat African-American woman President

The beautiful irony in all this is that the two old white guys – who many were asking, “is this the best we have?” – have now been displaced and replaced by individuals who reflect the times and turmoils of where the country appears to be headed.

Too far fetched or is political truth stranger than fiction these days?

Senator Martha McSally explains Mark Kelly’s intimate relationship with China

Republican Martha McSally appeared on the Hugh Hewitt show earlier this week to discuss her race for the US Senate.

In the interview she discusses fundraising, national security and her opponents intimate entanglements with the Chinese government.

Here’s the video of the interview:

In the Primary race for Republican, Sonoran Alliance endorses Martha McSally.

“Do No Harm” in the effort to lower drug costs

As we enter a new decade, advances in medicine hold the promise for a brighter future in the battle against deadly diseases like cancer.  Advances in immunotherapy and targeted gene therapy, for example, present opportunities not even imagined just few years ago.  The challenge for politicians and policy makers is to keep these life-saving advancements coming, while at the same time keeping them affordable for patients.

Getting this balance right is especially important to the large population of Seniors we have in Arizona.

Just 15 years ago a Republican Congress and President modernized Medicare by creating a prescription drug benefit called Medicare Part D.  Unlike other parts of Medicare, Part D was designed on the free-market principles of plan competition and senior choice.  Recognizing that one size does not fit all, every year Seniors have a choice of a variety of plans who compete vigorously for their business.  In order to keep their premiums low and attract Seniors to sign up, plans have a strong incentive to drive a hard bargain with drug manufacturers to keep prices down.

Affordable Drugs

It comes as no surprise to conservatives, that Part D’s free-market model has worked.  When the legislation was passed, the Congressional Budget Office estimated both the cost of the program to Medicare and the average monthly premium a Senior would pay, for the first 10 years of the program.  The actual results were remarkable. 

Medicare spending was 35-40% less than predicted and average monthly premiums projected to be $55 or more in 2016 are in fact only $32.70 in 2020 and that is a slight decrease from 2019.  In addition to these financial measure of success, Part D maintains a Senior Satisfaction Rate in excess of 90%, unheard of for most government programs.

Despite this success, big government advocates like Nancy Pelosi want undermine Medicare Part D and its sister program Medicare Advantage, by importing government price controls from socialist countries.  What is known as an International Pricing Index (IPI) is included in her signature drug pricing legislation which passed the House of Representatives last December. 

President Trump has correctly pointed out that many advanced economies around the world which have socialist health care systems are not paying their fair share of R&D costs for new drugs.  They are freeloading on American consumers.  But the answer is to stop these unfair trade practices, not import their socialist price fixing to the US!

Socialist health systems hold down cost by rationing drugs.  They either wait a long time to make new drugs available to their people, or they are never available.  Writing in Forbes in February 2020 author Doug Schoen points out that “roughly 96% of new cancer medicines are made available in the United States, while the 16 countries used in the International Pricing Index only have 55% of new cancer medicines.  Further, patients in these 16 countries also receive these medications on average 17 months after release, whereas in the United States, patients have almost immediate access to new cancer medicines following FDA approval”.

These cold statistics translate into patient’s lives.  An HIS Markit study published in 2018 “Comparing Health Outcome Due to Drug Access: A Model in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer,” concludes that half of the gains in life expectancy we have made in fighting lung cancer, the number one cancer killer worldwide, would have been lost if the rationing policies found in Australia, Canada, France, South Korea and the United Kingdom were replicated in the US.”

Government price controls on drugs are not the answer.  But neither is doing nothing.  Fortunately, Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Congressman Greg Walden (R-Oregon 2) have introduced legislation to help. 

Their legislation, S. 3129 and H.R. 19, preserve the free-market competition which has worked so well in both Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage, but directs that more of the savings from negotiations with drug manufacturers flow directly to the consumer at the pharmacy counter in the form of immediate discounts.  They also cap the annual out-of-pocket spending Seniors must pay for prescription drugs. 

The legislation also takes steps to reduce the freeloading of other developed nations on our R&D and streamlines coordination between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Medicare to insure that new treatment reach Seniors as quickly as possible.

Doctors take an oath, “First, do no harm.”  That’s good advice for politicians and policy makers as well.  Taking steps to lower drug costs to Seniors is important.  But we must do it the right way or we will harm those we are trying to help.

Rural Arizona Doesn’t Need Surprises on Mental Health Care Access

By Timothy Alan

Each year, I plunge into the wilderness for weeks at a time. The experience is a salve for my mental outlook. “Getting away from it all” is an effective wellness strategy. But it’s important to remember, serious issues like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse disorders do not resolve themselves with a temporary escape.

Treatment is essential. Unfortunately, in rural Arizona, mental health services can be incredibly hard to come by—and sadly, help could soon become even more difficult to access.

That’s because new legislation in Congress could worsen our state’s already severe shortage of mental health professionals. Elected leaders in Washington are moving rapidly on a plan to add price controls to the health care market. The proposal was crafted to relieve families of the risk of large, surprise medical bills for out-of-network health care services, but legislators’ good intentions cannot erase the detrimental consequences they would engender by enacting this law.

Price controls on any market are a recipe for shortages. When applied to food, the result was the bread lines of the former Soviet Union. When used on medicines, price controls contributed to the violent upheavals in Venezuela. If we add price controls to America’s health care system, including many behavioral health services, similar outcomes will follow.

This is unacceptable. Already more than 2.8 million Arizonans live in areas with too few mental health professionals. Our state is meeting less than 12 percent of the existing need for behavioral health services and would require nearly 200 more practitioners to catch up.[1] We won’t attract them if we have price controls.

I deliver wilderness-based therapeutic care for troubled teens and youth, and I can tell you, most of my clients with mental health challenges struggle to get help. A lack of psychiatrists and other providers is a problem we share with small towns, frontier regions, and remote communities across the nation, and it is putting our children in jeopardy. In fact, the suicide rate for young people in rural areas is almost twice as high as in urban regions.[2]

Without sufficient mental health experts, rural hospitals and clinics cannot provide life-saving emergency and inpatient psychiatric care for patients in imminent danger. And because the prognosis for mental illness improves with early treatment, our inability to direct behavioral health services to children, teens, and young adults condemns too many residents to more severe illness than they’d likely have suffered with more timely intervention.

Although my focus is on mental health, the effects of federal price control legislation would extend much farther into the health care system. Rural patients would be less able to access air ambulances to speed them to urgently needed care. The number of specialists, from heart doctors to trauma surgeons, would plummet from already low numbers. Patients would have to travel great distances for care, and non-critical cases would be shunted aside until a patient’s situation reaches crisis levels.

These outcomes are as predictable as they are life-threatening. Price controls never turn out any differently. It’s unclear how our elected leaders stumbled so far off course in their efforts to address health care affordability, but they need to return to their senses and protect—not endanger—Arizonans’ access to care.

Timothy Alan is a behavioral health specialist with ANASAZI.

[1] https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/mental-health-care-health-professional-shortage-areas-hpsas/?currentTimeframe=0&selectedRows=%7B%22states%22:%7B%22arizona%22:%7B%7D%7D%7D&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/03/09/the-suicide-rate-for-young-people-is-much-higher-in-rural-areas/

Kelli Ward: The Lonely Leader of #NeverMartha Republicans

By Calamity June

Ever since Donald J Trump became the Republican Party’s standard bearer, a counter movement known as “#NeverTrump sprung up to stop the freight train of the Trump movement. These “Never Trumpers were not liberal Democrats, however. They were, and are, so-called Republicans, who just can’t stand the fact that President Trump defeated their favored candidate in the Republican primary.

In Arizona, we have a similar phenomenon that is every bit as destructive. “Never Martha” Republicans may well have cost the GOP a critical Senate seat. And thanks to this group of sore losers, we’re stuck with Kyrsten Sinema for six long years.

The #NeverMartha Republicans are led by Kelli Ward, who ran “one of the worst campaigns in recent memory.” For the 2nd political cycle in a row, Ward was overmatched, and soundly defeated in the Republican primary.

But that isn’t necessarily disqualifying. People run and lose all the time. Most candidates who fall short, however, have the decency and the desire to unite the party behind the GOP standard bearer, be it for President, Governor, or in this case, United States Senate.

But Kelli Ward? Not so much.

We had our first clue that Kelli would not be unifying the party when she refused to sign the AZGOP’s Unity Pledge. The vast majority of candidates, including Governor Doug Ducey and Congresswoman Martha McSally, signed the pledge immediately, signaling that they would be 100% supportive of the Republican nominee. But not Kelli Ward. Not only did she refuse to pledge her support for the GOP nominee, she engaged in a physical altercation with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his staff, as she attempted to strong arm him from the race.

It got even worse after Ward’s terrible primary showing against Martha McSally. After garnering just 28% of the vote in the primary, Ward again refused to endorse McSally. While she eventually sent out a mealy-mouthed “endorsement” of the Republican ticket, her actions made clear her disdain for party unity and her commitment to the #NeverMartha agenda. Despite the primary election being over, her campaign continued to sponsor an attack website on Congresswoman McSally, calling her “Martha McFake,” refusing to take it down until she was called out on social media last week. So for the final weeks of the campaign, as undecided voters looked for information about both candidates, there was a good chance they’d stumble upon an attack website, sponsored by none other than Kelli Ward.

Lest there be any question that Ward was working against Martha McSally, look at her actions just prior to early voting. In a September 26 facebook post, she directed her supporters to vote for the slate below. Nearly every Republican nominee is listed, except one: Martha McSally. Incredibly, Kelli Ward promoted a slate of candidates that excluded the Republican nominee for US Senate, who happened to be running against an avowed socialist with a history of disparaging Arizona.

As we all now know, the GOP lost the US Senate race by less than 2%. It begs the question: how many votes did Kelli Ward and her #NeverMartha minions cost our candidate…and why should anyone trust her to be a unifying voice when her entire history is one of division, backstabbing and negative attacks on fellow Republicans?

They shouldn’t. And they won’t.