Six candidates for the Arizona Corporation Commission get ready for a debate at the PBS studio at the Cronkite building at ASU in downtown Phoenix on Sept. 30, 2020./AZPBS
By Ryan Randazzo | Arizona Republic
Democratic groups want to see more solar energy and other forms of renewable energy in Arizona, and they are spending big in this year’s election to try to make it happen.
So far, outside groups have spent $6 million to help the three Democratic candidates running for seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Meanwhile, the Republican candidates have seen only about $100,000 in spending from outside groups to help boost their campaigns.
The Corporation Commission sets utility rates and policies in Arizona. It currently includes four Republicans and one Democrat, but with three seats on the ballot this year the majority could shift, and clean-energy supporters see opportunity.
The money for Democrats has come from two sources: $2 million pledged by the Chispa Arizona PAC, an environmental justice and Latino group affiliated with the League of Conservation Voters; and $4 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s political action committee, according to records from the Secretary of State’s Office.
The outside money injected into the race can play a big role in getting the word out to voters, especially since each of the three Republicans and three Democrats are running on Clean Elections funding. That means the candidates themselves have had less than $300,000 to spend on the general election from the Citizens Clean Election Commission, plus what they collect in individual contributions.
Up until about 12 years ago, these races were sleepy affairs spending-wise. That changed when solar issues drew more interest — and money.