Sanity reigns (briefly) in the Senate as bill to break up Maricopa County bombs

Opinion: There is only reason why Sen. Jake Hoffman wanted to break up Maricopa County and it has nothing to do with good government.

By Laurie Roberts || The Arizona Republic

Finally, sanity has reared its rarely seen head at the Arizona Capitol as a bipartisan group of senators smacked down a bonkers plan to carve up Maricopa County.

Sen. Jake Hoffman, like the rest of the far-right Arizona Freedom Caucus he chairs, is convinced that those demon Maricopa County supervisors – four of the five of them being Republicans – have put the fix in on recent elections.

His answer: split Maricopa County into four counties. Three to be run by Republicans and one by Democrats.

Property taxes in three of the four new counties would rise under Hoffman’s plan, but that’s just the price we must pay for denying Donald Trump and Kari Lake their due.

Or not, as it turns out.

4 Republican senators broke their lockstep

At a time when Republicans are mostly marching in lockstep on their way to the veto pit, four senators split off and joined with Democrats on Tuesday to nix Hoffman’s bill.

It went down to defeat, 18-12.

“I will not vote for something that’s going to increase government fourfold,” said Sen. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix. Joining him were GOP Sens. Frank Carroll of Sun City West, John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills and Ken Bennett of Prescott.

And just like that, poof go (some of) our leaders’ dreams of more pliable officials a la Cochise County, where Republican supervisors tried every which way to get out of following the state law that required them to certify the 2022 election.

Hoffman is a Queen Creek Republican best known for his role as one of 11 fake electors who tried to hijack Arizona’s vote after the 2020 presidential election.

That, and the internet troll farm he ran in the months during the 2020 campaign, paying teenagers to blanket social media with fake posts on conservative talking points and baseless conspiracy theories aimed at getting Trump reelected.

Hoffman – whose company was paid more than $2 million to help Lake get elected last year – also is the guy grinding up Gov. Katie Hobbs’ appointees in his role as chairman of the newly formed Senate Committee on Director Nominations.

Hoffman claims it’s about good governance

This was his second attempt to break up Maricopa County, the nation’s fourth-largest county and home to 65% of the state’s residents.

Then-House Speaker Rusty Bowers killed last year’s bill. But Bowers is gone now, ousted by Republican voters last year for refusing to go along with the 2020 scheme to overturn democracy in Arizona.

With his absence a gusher of unhinged ideas are flowing forth in the Legislature, many of them centered on the far-right’s desperate attempt to hang onto their diminishing grip on the state.

Which brings me to Senate Bill 1137.


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March 2023