Chuck Coughlin on Open Primaries, Ranked Choice Voting

Chuck Coughlin, President and CEO of Arizona’s Highground recently joined Barry Markson on the Mike Broomhead show to discuss the possibility of Arizona switching to an open primary system.

Here is that podcast:

There is a strong possibility that Arizona voters will have the opportunity to approve a major overhaul of our election system.

Coughlin is part of an effort by an organization called Save Democracy Arizona which seeks to improve choice and competition in our election system.

The 2022 election cycle showed that Republicans nominated the most extreme and unpalatable candidates in the party Primary Election. Those candidates refused to appeal to the remaining independent voters and lost their General Election contests.

The aftermath of the 2022 election is that most Arizona voters felt they had horrible choices in the General Election. In the case of Republican candidates, many center-right voters either refused to vote for the Republican candidate or cast a vote for the Democrat.

Ranked Choice Voting or an open primary change would dampen the effect of either party nominating extreme candidates.

Save Democracy Arizona is currently exploring an opportunity to put ranked choice voting or an open primary system on the 2024 General Election ballot.

Chuck Coughlin Discusses Arizona Primary Election Results

Arizona HighGround President & CEO, Chuck Coughlin, was a recent guest on KJZZ’s The Show discussing Primary Election results and Republican victory prospects heading into the November General Election.

Sitting down with KJZZ reporters, Steve Goldstein and Lauren Gilger, Coughlin provided a great assessment of the “Nightmare” or “Doomsday Slate” and the possible outcome for Trump-slate Republicans.

Coughlin did not express much confidence that candidates like Kari Lake and Mark Finchem can pivot back to the center to appeal to a broader General Election electorate. And, while the Arizona Republican Party is in a major civil war with itself, Democrats have an opportunity to pick up statewide seats in November.

Arizona Political Consultants Comment on GOP National Convention

Several Arizona longtime political consultants weigh in on the finale of the Republican National Convention.

Thursday night, the Arizona PBS affiliate, KAET, featured local political consultants Constantin Querard, Chuck Coughlin and Stan Barnes discussed the GOP convention with Ted Simons on Horizon.

I applaud my colleague Constantin on giving a great assessment of the convention and taking a few tough questions. Hats off to Chuck and Stan for their great assessments as well.

Here is the video of their joint appearance:

Finally, I have to beg Stan Barnes to get on Twitter. We’re waiting for you Stan!

Brewer’s Organ Grinder Implicated in Seedy City Pork Schemes

The Goldwater Institute’s outstanding investigative reporter Mark Flatten has produced one of the most important pieces of Arizona journalism in many years called Shifting The Burden: Cities Waive Property Taxes for Favored Businesses.  In it he methodically and devastatingly deconstructs the complicated “government property lease excise tax” or GPLET scheme that insiders close to Gov. Jan Brewer and other top Arizona politicians use to shift hundreds of millions of dollars from small businesses and homeowners to their special interest friends.  The topic is a bit dense but any taxpayer who has asked why their property tax liability keeps going up should work through it so they can understand how the powerful and their lobbyists like Brewer’s man Chuck Coughlin game the system to the misfortune of average guy and gal.

Shifting The Burden: Cities Waive Property Taxes for Favored Businesses

By Mark Flatten
Goldwater Institute Special Investigation
February 18, 2010

Special deals between cities and hand-picked developers have exempted more than $2 billion in development projects from property taxes in Arizona, shifting the tax burden to surrounding property owners and creating a competitive disadvantage for other businesses, an investigation by the Goldwater Institute has found.

Those high-rise office buildings and sprawling retail centers would generate more than $30 million annually in property taxes if they were not exempted through lease agreements with the cities. As a result of those deals, the owner of a $200,000 home near Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix pays about $183 in additional property taxes every year. A similar home in downtown Phoenix is charged an extra $90 annually, according to state legislative studies.

The unpaid property taxes are supposed to be replaced by the Government Property Lease Excise Tax or GPLET. However, the Institute’s investigation found GPLET payments amount to a fraction of what would be paid in property taxes.

Virtually every high-rise office tower that has been built in downtown Phoenix in the last decade is covered under a GPLET lease. The tax exemption also has been granted to a now-shuttered dog racing track in Phoenix, a tattoo studio in Clifton and regional shopping malls in the East Valley. In coming years, additional projects worth billions of dollars will be covered under GPLET leases.

Last year efforts by state lawmakers to curb the lucrative breaks in the law were blocked by Mesa officials and the developer planning to use the exemption for a $1 billion resort on the eastern outskirts of the city. But, State Representative Rick Murphy has introduced a bill again this year to curb these agreements.

A recent Arizona Supreme Court decision also puts the property tax exemption in jeopardy. The court ruled that sales tax rebates for a shopping center in Phoenix amounted to an unconstitutional gift of taxpayer money to the developer. Promises of future job growth or other tax revenues are not enough to justify special sales tax breaks, the court ruled. Those are the same arguments that are used to justify GPLET agreements.

Read Shifting the Burden here

Sidebar: Scottsdale’s SkySong Avoids Property Taxes Without GPLET lease

Investigation Analysis by Clint Bolick

Arizona Guardian: Brewer struggles to raise campaign cash

Money isn’t the only daunting challenge facing Jan Brewer’s campaign… her highly-paid consultant apparently is preparing for a September primary victory.  I think John Munger, Vernon Parker, Dean Martin, Buz Mills, Robert Graham, Doug Ducey and any other GOP gubernatorial hopeful will be looking to peak a little earlier, say August 24, 2009. 


Tuesday, December 22, 2009
By Dennis Welch 
The Arizona Guardian 
Gov. Jan Brewer isn’t raising money as fast as her political handlers would like and is lagging behind her GOP opponents. 
Brewer plans on running as a publicly funded candidate but is allowed to raise up to $50,000 in small contributions, known as seed money, until she qualifies. 
The governor’s political advisers were hopeful it would take just a few days to raise the money after Brewer announced on Nov. 5 that she was running for a full term. 
But it didn’t turn out that way. As of last week the governor was still chasing after seed money, according to emails obtained by the Guardian
Invitations for a Dec. 14th fund-raising event were very clear that the governor still needed donations. Those contributions are capped at $140 per person and $280 per couple. 
Chuck Coughlin, the governor’s chief political adviser, would not say whether Brewer has raised the rest of the money since the event last week. 
“We will not be playing any horse race games for tomorrow’s headlines,” Coughlin said Tuesday. “They only thing we care about is winning in September and November, of which I am assured.” 
It was Coughlin who sent out an email to potential donors that he wanted to wrap up the seed money in several days. That was more than six weeks ago.  
“The campaign needs as many $140/$280 contributions… as possible by close of business tomorrow,” Coughlin said in the Nov. 5 email. “It will take many oars in the water on this one but the campaign needs your help today and tomorrow… It would be great if we can knock this out in the next few days.” 
A candidate’s ability to raise money is traditionally considered an early test of the candidate’s viability. Brewer suffers from low approval ratings among voters, according to recent polling data.
Brewer is trailing her potential political rivals when it comes to raising her seed money. 
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard finished up on Dec. 8, according to volunteers with his campaign. Goddard, who is considered the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for governor, formally announced his candidacy one day after Brewer. 
Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker says it took him 41 days to raise his seed money. Parker, a Republican, launched his campaign last summer. 
The three candidates are running under the state’s clean elections system which means they will receive public money to pay for their campaigns. But before they can get their cash they must qualify by collecting $5 donations from about 5,000 registered voters. 
Once they are eligible, gubernatorial candidates receive about $777,000 for the primary and another $1.1 million for the general election. 
Other candidates for governor are not expected to run with public money. John Munger and Owen “Buz” Mills, both Republicans, are running traditional. And state Treasurer Dean Martin, also a Republican, is not expected to run as an clean election candidate should he decide to jump in the race.

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