Arizona Voters Keep Governor, Reject Green-Energy Mandate

(CN) – Arizona voters handily struck down a renewable energy initiative Tuesday and re-elected a Republican governor once seen as vulnerable.

Voters across the state spoke of an urgency to place their votes: either as a show of support for President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, or as a way to speak out against the Trump administration’s agenda.

Outside a school district office in Prescott Valley, Kris Jones said she voted because she wants “Republicans to win.” She also voted against Proposition 127, which would have altered the state constitution to require utility companies to get half their power from renewable sources by 2030. Voters shot down the measure with 69 percent of the vote against.

“I don’t want people mandating it,” Jones said of the proposition. “The ads say it would cost $1,000 more a year. I’m not sure that’s true. I don’t want us being like California.”

In Kingman, a city in northwestern Arizona along the historic Route 66, Cathy Sipe Woodhouse said she also voted against the measure.

“I voted no on Prop. 127 because California’s electric bills skyrocketed and that would happen in Arizona,” Sipe Woodhouse said.

The initiative was strongly opposed by state utility companies and businesses, with the political action committee Arizonans for Affordable Energy spending $30 million against the measure.

Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, a PAC funded largely by San Francisco hedge fund billionaire and staunch environmentalist Tom Steyer, spent $29 million to try to pass the initiative.

Bill Vittal, an environmental engineer, did vote in favor of the proposition.

“I wrestled with that, but we’ve got sun here in Arizona and the state needs to do more,” Vittal said.

The current energy standard, set by the Arizona Corporation Commission, requires utilities to get 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025.

Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, was easily re-elected to a second term, fending off Democratic opponent David Garcia with 58 percent of the vote.

Ducey, once vulnerable with voters after teachers in Arizona walked out of their classrooms earlier this year to protest low wages, made substantial gains since the primary election.

“I think David Garcia talked himself out of the race when he publicly admitted he would raise taxes and was against the wall,” said Kingman voter Odelia Sumner. “So I voted for Ducey.”

A misstep by Garcia over summer may have clinched the win for Ducey. In July, he joined other Democrats in calls to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a risky political move in conservative Arizona that diminished the lead Garcia had on Ducey.

“I voted for David Garcia because I like him and I come from a long line of teachers,” said Mert Glancy, a small business owner in Kingman whose father was an Arizona state legislator. “Doug Ducey didn’t do anything for teachers until his feet were put to the fire. He didn’t even meet with them and only ran a last-minute campaign after the teachers walked out.”

Six of the last eight gubernatorial elections in Arizona have gone to Republicans. Janet Napolitano, current president of the University of California and a former U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration, was the last Democrat elected to the position.

Just over 2 million voters are projected to have been cast ballots in Tuesday’s election, making it the largest midterm turnout in the state since 2006.

Cochise County in southeast Arizona experienced record numbers.

Minutes before the polls closed, Cochise County elections director Lisa Marra said 11,701 people had voted at the county’s 14 voting centers and more than 30,000 early ballots had been received. Just under 125,000 people live in the rural county.

Outside Yavapai College in Prescott, Molly Beverly said she was encouraged to see people voting and running for office.

“The middle class is really hurting, and the bottom of the middle class is dropping out,” Beverly said.

Shannon Llewellyn, David Morgan and Brad Simmerman contributed to this story.

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