Political Insider: Marijuana group reminds backers the stakes are high

Doobie-ous outcome . . . The medical-marijuana ballot measure has been in limbo since early results came in on Election Night.

The “no” vote on Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, has led by less than 1 percentage point since then. There were about 135,000 early ballots and 83,000 provisional ballots as of Friday, and counties have another week to go through them.

In an e-mail blast to supporters this week, Marijuana Policy Project, the Washington, D.C.-based interest group that largely bankrolled Prop. 203, said “this is a nail-biter, and the stakes are high.” (Pun intended?) MPP spent more than $600,000 to place Prop. 203 on the ballot, according to the e-mail.

“MPP has almost completely depleted its coffers working on the Arizona campaign,” wrote Rob Kampia, MPP executive director.

Steve Fox, director of government relations, told Insider that the group is “obviously disappointed not to see the initiative passing by a healthy margin,” but the group was still hopeful. Fox said the group has no plans yet to try again next election cycle. It’s expensive, and it still might pass, he said.

–  One lump or two, Russell? . . . The letter next to Russell Pearce’s name on the Nov. 2 ballot was very clearly an R. But now that he has been re-elected and appointed Senate president, Pearce is making sure his supporters know the letter should have been a T.

A blog from Pearce picked up by the Sonoran Alliance website is signed “Russell Pearce . . . Tea Party Senate President-Elect.” He said in the blog, “I consider this to be the Tea Party Senate and we intend to take back America one state at a time.”

Republicans clearly carry the majority in the Senate, but only time will tell how many of those line up with Pearce’s tea party – and whether the traditional lines of Democrat vs. Republican next session become moderate Republicans and Democrats vs. tea party.

–  The path to a Pearce presidency . . . was paved with strong GOP gains in Tuesday’s election, promises to keep immigration bills off the front burner and a little bit of sophomoric struggle.

Pearce got the support of newly elected senators, such as Lori Klein, Don Shooter and Steve Smith, whom he campaigned for. He picked up Sen. Frank Antenori’s vote when he told the Tucson Republican that he wouldn’t move any immigration legislation until the state has dealt with its budget deficits and other measures to revive the economy.

That differs from what Pearce told reporters, when he said he wouldn’t sponsor a bill to challenge the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution but would make sure such a bill would get “proper assignments and consideration.”

Antenori said he believes Pearce will stick to his promise to not push immigration legislation. And if he breaks it, Antenori said, there are enough votes to block it.

“Trust me, it won’t happen,” he said. “I’ve got enough votes on both sides.”

The state has bigger issues, namely the economy, he said.

Adding to Pearce’s vote total was a resolve among some sitting senators that the presidency be held by someone with a Senate track record. When it became clear the race was between Pearce and Rep. Steve Yarbrough (who moves to the Senate in January), Senate vets coalesced around Pearce.

–  Tails, I win? . . . In the time-honored tradition of resolving electoral stalemates with a game of chance, Rep. Matt Heinz of Tucson won the Democratic whip spot on a coin toss. He called “tails” and won out over Rep. Ed Ableser, who also was vying for the No. 3 spot in the House Dems’ hierarchy.

Seen on the streets: Ever wonder where campaign signs go after all the shouting and the voting is done? Many are plucked up by the candidates and their campaigns, to be used in future efforts. But some get recycled into other purposes, such as this scene (left) from a downtown Phoenix street.

Quote of the week: “As the herd of cats gets bigger, it’s harder to keep them controlled.” – Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, on the Senate GOP caucus growing to 21 from 18.

Source: Azcentral

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