Arizona Special Election Results: Gabby Giffords Would Be Appalled at Current State of Arizona Politics

ByRobert Winn

Editor's Note: We interviewed Arizona voters about the mood in the state ahead of Tuesday's special election for Gabrielle Giffords' Congress seat. Below, Robert Winn gives his responses.

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Editorial Board (EB): What is the mood like in Arizona a little bit more than one year after the Giffords' shooting? Does anyone have any faith in politics?

Robert Winn (RW): There is a lot of sympathy for Representative Giffords, which will show up in the election. Faith in parties and party politicians is decreasing all the time in Arizona, which shows up in the fact that for a couple of years, both major parties have been losing voters in Arizona, while independent voters are increasing.

EB: Has Giffords' bipartisan message come to fruition in Arizona, or is it politics as usual?

RW: Arizona has never been a bipartisan state, and independent voters have never been allowed to run for office in Arizona. I once took the independent voter nomination petition signature requirement to federal court myself and a federal judge ruled that a 10,000 signature requirement for independent voters for an office that required 3,000 signatures for a Republican or Democrat was constitutional.

EB: To what extent does immigration play a role in this election? 

RW: Immigration is a means for both parties to organize factions. Party leaders in both parties want it to remain unresolved. It has been a factor disadvantageous to independent voters because it was used as a ruse in 2004 to provide an excuse for taking the option to register independent off from the Arizona voter registration form in 2005.

EB: Ron Barber vs. Jesse Kelly: Who are most of your friends more excited about?

RW: I live in a different Congressional district. There are not as many Democrats here. Most of the people I know would probably be in favor of Kelly, but I doubt that he will be elected. 

EB: Are there any other local factors that could play a role about how many people vote, like the weather or traffic?

RW: Voter registration has always been abysmally low in Arizona. It was 48% in 1988. That was when the one act of bi-partisanship I have seen happen in Arizona took place. The Arizona legislature passed a bill signed into law by Governor Rose Mofford requiring that deputy registrars in Arizona be recommended by the chairman of a political party. Accordingly, all deputy registrars in Arizona who were registered independent were dismissed on 31 Dec 1988, and informed that they were no longer eligible for that position. The reason why I know about that is because I was one of the deputy registrars who were dismissed.