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Late on September 23rd, a Pima County Superior Court judge effectively allowed Arizona’s 19th Century ban on nearly all abortions to go back into effect. That is at odds with a 2022 law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Just this week, Maricopa County’s top prosecutor reversed herself and said she wouldn’t prosecute women for getting an abortion.  Facing a charged political environment, Arizona officials have struggled to clarify what is legal and what is now forbidden after the U.S. Supreme Court in June erased federal abortion rights. The Pima County ruling sparked another round of anger and anguish from Democrats. Most Republicans preferred to let the latest development pass quietly. In this episode of The Gaggle, Brookings senior fellow and founding director Center for Effective Public ManagementElaine Kamarck (@EKamarck) joins our host, Ron Hansen to discuss how abortion restrictions may impact midterm elections. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
On election night in 2020, Fox News made the first formal projection suggesting that Joe Biden could win the presidency by saying Biden had won Arizona. Almost immediately, that projection set off a firestorm in the White House, capped by then-President Donald Trump suggesting that the election was stolen. The backlash in Arizona came swiftly. Protesters gathered at the state Capitol, claiming a stolen election even as the votes were still being counted. Maricopa County became the national epicenter of the so-called “big lie” that widespread fraud allowed Biden to claim victory. By the end of 2020, the Arizona Republican Party assembled “alternate electors” to justify setting aside election results in Washington, D.C.  About the same time, Arizona state Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, set her chamber on a fateful path as well. She launched an unprecedented review of Maricopa County’s ballots in search of the fraud so many had claimed in Arizona. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen is joined by Arizona Republic reporters Mary Jo Pitzl and Robert Anglen, who helped cover the ballot review and the fallout since then. They discuss the year since the ballot review concluded, what it accomplished, and how it will affect the 2022 elections come November. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Few things are a safe bet when the Arizona Legislature reconvenes in January, including who will be sitting in the seats. What can be expected is that there will be a representative for the whole spectrum of opinions: from election deniers to abortion rights supporters. This is the expected outgrowth of a newly drawn political map where most races are not competitive in general elections. But what about the 11 state house races around Arizona where there is a little suspense over who will sit in the state Legislature for the next two years? This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen is joined by state politics and issues reporter Ray Stern to make sense of the many Legislative races that will be on your ballot come November. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
While it’s September and still in the triple digits here in Arizona, the change in the calendar means summer recess is over. The kids are back to school. Members of Congress are back in Washington. The midterm elections are looming, and control of both chambers of Congress is in question.  Currently, Democrats lead with 220 members in the 435-person House of Representatives, which has lit a fire under Republicans to regain the House.  But a Republican takeover might not be as easy as predicted. For answers, some are looking right here in Arizona. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen is joined by Kyle Kondik. He is the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a non-partisan newsletter from the University of Virginia on campaigns and elections. Together they discuss the status of Arizona's federal races, the Senate and the House races, which could offer clues to how the country might be voting as well. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
At the beginning of August, the U.S. Interior Department has announced a water shortage that will trigger cuts in the water supply in Arizona and other parts of the Southwest. A United Nations environmental program said Lake Powell and Lake Mead have reached “dangerously low levels.” The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the nation’s water projects, gave the seven states and 30 tribes that use the Colorado River eight weeks to come up with a plan to conserve more water.  The goal was to conserve an extra 2 to 4 million acre-feet of water, thereby stabilizing the rapidly dwindling reservoirs.  However, no plan was reached and the clock keeps ticking. In this episode, we’re talking about an issue many of you have sent our way: Arizona’s water crisis. How bad is it? And what are government and policy leaders doing about it? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
As his two terms as governor wind down, Doug Ducey crossed off one of the goals he's had on his list for nearly eight years. He signed into law House Bill 2853, expanding school vouchers to allow all parents to use them for private school tuition or other educational costs. It's being lauded as the biggest school-choice victory in the nation. Supporters say it will increase opportunities for Arizona students and families to choose the education they want without being limited by financial situations, but critics argue it casts a blind eye to the already struggling public school system in the state. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen is joined by K-12 education reporter Yana Kunichoff to break down what the law really means for the future of the state and what it means for Ducey's legacy as governor.  Later in the show, Darleen Opfer, vice president and director of RAND Education and Labor, discusses potential obstacles Arizona parents could still face and where the expanded voucher program places the state in the national conversation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
President Joe Biden on Aug. 9 signed into law the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act.. The historic legislation provides up to $52 billion dollars from the U.S. government to help spur production of semiconductor factories, advanced technologies and research facilities across the country.  The Biden administration hopes it will open doors to new commercial breakthroughs in emerging fields such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence.  With the passage of the CHIPS Act, the U.S. is ready to once more become a world leader in semiconductor production and challenge China’s domination in that industry. One of the states that could stand to benefit from the law is Arizona, which has long been a desirable location for tech companies from Motorola to Intel.  In today’s episode, The Gaggle investigates what the new federal initiative could mean in a state trying to expand its high-tech footprint.  The president of Arizona State University Michael Crow and Mesa Mayor John Giles join our host Ron Hansen in the conversation.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
After distinguishing themselves from the pack, Trump-endorsed candidates won big at Arizona's primaries.  Kari Lake clinched the Republican nomination for governor and will go head-to-head with Democrat Katie Hobbs.  Republican Blake Masters will face off with incumbent Democratic Mark Kelly for a seat in the U.S. Senate. In the Secretary of State race, Republican, and notorious conspiracy theorist, Mark Finchem will face off with Adrian Fontes, the Democratic former Maricopa County Recorder.  So what does this say about Arizona’s electorate as we head into November? Are Trump-style Republicans primed to take hold in our state? Or will the majority of Arizonans turn to Democrats in the fall? In this episode of The Gaggle, we’re setting the table for the midterm elections. We’ll talk about how voter choices in the primaries will help determine what happens in November. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Election day is over. As of Thursday evening, gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, clinched the GOP nomination. Adrian Fontes beat Reginald Bolding for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state.  But there are still ballots to count, and it hasn’t been smooth sailing. From pens smudging ballots in Maricopa County to Pinal County running out of ballots, the August primaries gave those suspicious of elections more to complain about.  In this special bonus episode of The Gaggle, we’re taking a closer look at issues that have handicapped the election process and what the response has been. We’ll also take a look at the gubernatorial race.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Votes are still being counted, but an early look at Arizona's 2022 primary race shows in what direction it's heading. Maybe the most important thing to know is that former President Donald Trump's preferred candidates are doing well. In the U.S. Senate race, Blake Masters beat out his four rivals on the Republican ticket.  And in the state Senate, House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who famously rejected Trump’s requests to help sidestep voters in the 2020 election, is losing to Trump-endorsed David Farnsworth.  Eyes are still on one of the most contentious races. The Republican gubernatorial contest between Trump-backed Kari Lake and Mike Pence-backed Karrin Taylor Robson is in a virtual tie. The winner will face Democrat Katie Hobbs. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by the Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen gives an inside look into the Republic newsroom on election night. He is joined by reporters Stacey Barchenger, Mary Jo Pitzl, Tara Kavaler and Ray Stern as they analyze the early results and what they could mean for voters in the November general election. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The battle for the soul of the Republican party took center stage in Arizona. Last week, our state saw visits on the same day from former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence. They talked about some of the same priorities, from border security to economic growth. But their differences now really define them.  With thousands on hand, Trump took aim at the Biden administration and Republicans who haven’t joined his false claims of a stolen election. Those include Pence and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. Meanwhile in Peoria, Pence and Ducey held a more intimate gathering of hundreds of supporters in hand for gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson, a GOP rival of Lake's.  Both sides are battling for the future of the GOP. Trump commanded a much larger crowd. Does that mean he’s winning? In this week's Gaggle, host Ron Hansen is joined by Republic reporter Stacey Barchenger to unpack what a Trump and Pence endorsement can do for Arizona's primary candidates.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The House committee investigating the riot at the U.S. Capitol has been meeting publicly for over a month now. So far, its investigation into the uprising has uncovered new information making it clear former President Donald Trump and his political team were involved in inciting the mob. Arizona, the state with the closest contest in the 2020 election and some of the staunchest Trump allies on Capitol Hill, is a recurring topic in the hearings. Because Arizona's state Legislature was controlled by Republicans, Trump and his allies made the state one of the key targets of their pressure campaign to sidestep voters. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by the Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen is joined by Republic reporter Richard Ruelas. Ruelas has covered the extremist groups involved at the insurrection. Together, they recap how Arizonans were linked to the Jan. 6 uprising and the hearings that followed.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Just a year after being implemented, the independent office that investigates police misconduct is under threat of being a little less independent.  House Bill 2721 ensures that all Arizona entities investigating police departments have police officers on the investigation team from the same agency being investigated. And those officers must make up at least two-thirds of the investigating body.  The bill is sponsored by Representative John Kavanagh, a Republican from Fountain Hills – who is currently running for the Arizona Senate.  On its heels is another bill that would criminalize recording video of police within eight feet or less. Both bills were recently signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey.  The Phoenix Police department has been under intense scrutiny after allegations of abuse, excessive force and discrimination by the department’s officers came to light. The Department of Justice opened a far-reaching investigation into these claims last year.  In this episode of The Gaggle, we take a closer look at how these new laws will affect policing and police accountability in our state.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
With the start of a new fiscal year looming, Republicans and Democrats came to a deal that resulted in a state budget of nearly $18 billion for 2022-23. More money for infrastructure, education and water issues and raises to state employees are included in the spending package. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by the Arizona Republic and, guest host Amanda Luberto talks with Arizona Republic state politics reporters Mary Jo Pitzl and Stacey Barchenger to break down how the legislation will affect you, and the whole state, moving forward.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
On June 24th, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the longstanding constitutional right to abortion. It came months after a leaked document suggested the Court’s decision to strike down Roe V. Wade. The 5-4 ruling now leaves it to the states to set their own abortion laws.  In some states, abortion rights are protected no matter the national ruling. In others, abortion became immediately illegal.  Arizona is in a gray zone. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by the Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen in joined by two Arizona Republic reporters to help give a better understanding on where Arizona stands in a post-Roe world. The show is first joined by health reporter Stephanie Innes and later on, state politics reporter Ray Stern.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Drive down any street these days and you’re likely to see campaign signs sprouting up like strange mushrooms all along the corners of intersections and roadsides. It can only mean one thing: elections are around the corner.  We are picking through the notable races and candidates you should pay attention to ahead of the primaries on Aug. 2. In this episode, we take a closer look at who’s running for a congressional seat in Washington D.C. Lorna Romero of Elevate Strategies and a Republican, and Eric Chalmers of Strategies 360, a Democrat, walk us through who's running, who stands out, and who has the likeliest chance of winning a seat in Congress. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Gov. Doug Ducey heads the Republican Governors Association, offering him national relevance in the final year of his tenure in Arizona.  Here in Arizona, the race to replace him is in full swing. with no one really offering what he has. As the Aug. 2 primary approaches, The Gaggle is covering the state's most competitive races, including who is running and how they stack up. Last week, the focus was on the state Legislature. This week on The Gaggle, a politics podcast by The Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen is first joined by Republic reporter Stacey Barchenger to discuss the Republicans and Democrats squaring off in the governor's race. Later, Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl joins to inform about the secretary of state's race, a contest getting attention for the first time in a long time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Early voting in the Arizona primaries is rapidly approaching. With that in mind, The Gaggle is focusing on the notable contests. While, many eyes are focused on the governor’s race and whether or not Senator Mark Kelly will keep his seat in Congress, we can’t forget that the state legislature can really move Arizona’s political needle. In this episode, our own state politics reporter, Ray Stern will help us make sense of the primaries to watch in the state House and Senate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
On May 24, America experienced another horrible mass shooting. An 18-year-old gunman in Uvalde, Texas, massacred 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. Salvador Ramos opened fire with an AR-15-style assault rifle in a fourth-grade classroom before an officer killed him to end the rampage. It is the deadliest school shooting since the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.  The violence in Texas still shocks, but it doesn’t feel new. The political response seemed more combative, more quickly, in another sign of America’s all-too-familiar political stalemate over gun violence. Polling shows large majorities of Americans favor at least some greater restrictions on access to firearms, yet the issue is scarcely discussed on Capitol Hill. At the state level, it’s a different story. In this week's episode of The Gaggle, a politics podcast by The Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen is joined by Republic reporter Rafael Carranza, who reported from Uvalde. UCLA professor Christopher Poliquin also joined the show to discuss how lawmakers react to these tragedies.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Freshman state Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, has been among the most prominent voices lying about the 2020 presidential election. But her bombast goes well past political puffery. After the recent massacre in Buffalo that police believe was at the hands of a white racist, Rogers crossed a line in a vague social media post that fueled a conspiracy that the slayings were part of a federal false-flag operation. Nearly all her Arizona Senate colleagues voted for an ethics investigation, but they limited their scrutiny to a seven-word post after the slayings in which she noted that “Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo.” They rejected a Democratic measure to immediately expel her. The Senate Ethics Committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday on the investigation into Rogers and her tweet. In this episode, Brian Levin, a national expert on hate and extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, joins The Gaggle. He explains how Rogers and the rise of extremists in Arizona compares to what is happening more widely across the country. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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