Arizona: plan calls for public financing of Superior Court races in counties not using merit selection system, however bill would eliminate public financing for all other races

Arizona’s constitution provides that judges for the Superior Court in counties with a population over 250,000 are selected via the state’s merit/commission system and subject to retention elections. All other Superior Court judges must face off in contested nonpartisan elections. Now, one member of the state senate wants to make those nonpartisan races publicly funded but at the cost of ending public financing of all other races in the state.

In 1998 Arizona voters approved the Arizona Citizens Clean Election Act to provide for public financing of legislative and statewide executive-branch offices. SCR 1015 deletes any reference to statewide offices or legislative offices but inserts “judges of the superior court in a county having a population of less than two hundred fifty thousand persons” throughout the various statutes.

The bill is part of a package of legislation aimed at either ending or curtailing the state’s Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission which enforces the Citizens Clean Election Act.

If passed by the House and Senate, SCR 1015 would not go to the governor but instead to voters to approve or reject as a referendum.

SCR 1015 is pending in the Senate Government Committee.