Rep. Victoria Steele and Pamela Powers Hannley

LD9 state Senate candidate Victoria Steele with Pamela Powers Hannley, LD9 House representative.

Update: this was previously titled “Democrats Get to Pick their State Senator in Tucson’s LD9.”

After getting 22,590 votes in the Democratic primary for the LD9 state Senate race in Tucson, Victoria Steele has picked up a Republican write-in opponent.

Steele, a former member of the Arizona House of Representatives from 2012 to 2016, collected 82.2% of the votes in the primary.

Now a political nobody called Randy Fleenor has gotten 698 write-in votes (363 were needed) to be the Republican candidate the November ballot. Fleenor is an electrical engineer who works at IBM. He spouts the usual GOP tripe about not raising teacher salaries, expanding school vouchers and not raising taxes.

Even though Fleenor has never been elected to public office, he was put up for the job by Republican national committeeman Bruce Ash. There will be an official hand count audit & write-in ballot tally on Sept. 1.

Steele vows to take action

LD9 is the best-organized Democratic district in Arizona, with 250 precinct captains (an increase of 91% from 2016). By any measure — whether it is registering voters, signing up people for voting early or meeting voters face to face — the volunteers in LD9 is have risen to the challenge.

Speaking at the recent LD9 meeting, Steele emphasized four pressing issues that face voters today:

  • Immigration reform. “We cannot put kids in tents and cages,” she said. After Trump’s zero tolerance policy on the border kicked in, he tried to use undocumented children as bargaining chips – hostages, in essence – to get Congress to give him what he wants along the border.
  • Saving public schools. “Public education is under fire. The Republicans are absolutely trying to destroy it,” she said. “We need people to fight. I got a lot of things passed when I was in the Legislature, more than the average legislator. I’m very good at working behind the scenes to make bad bills less bad.” Victoria Steele is a former Democratic member of the Arizona House of Representatives, representing District 9 from 2012 to January 11, 2016.
  • Facing a critical water shortage. “We Are less than two years away from a critical water shortage in our state, and we are not ready for that,” she warned “We have to make sure we have a sustainable supply of clean drinking water. It is one of thing I’ll put my whole effort into.”
  • Passing the Equal Rights Amendment. “We cannot sit on the sidelines as we watch women’s rights being stripped away,” she said. “We are increasingly the target of violence. Women are under attack in many ways. We need to stand up and fight. You need people who will protect your rights and reverse some of the harmful legislation that has been put forth.”

“I’ll put my effort toward passing the Equal Rights Amendment. Remember that thing called The Constitution? When it was first written, it said ‘All men are created equal.’ Not so much for women.”

Congress approved the ERA in 1972, but it had to be ratified by 38 states. In the 1980s it got pushed away by right-wing hater Phyllis Schlafly and anti-woman legislation.

“Last year women woke up,” Steele said. “Last year, Nevada passed the ERA — that’s 36 states. This year Illinois ratified the ERA – that’s 37 states. We need one more. Let’s make it Arizona.”

In response to a question, Steele supported the full decriminalization of marijuana. “I was a drug and alcohol therapist at a rehab center for women. I never once saw anyone overdose on marijuana. But I do see our prisons filled with brown-skinned people on marijuana charges. Decriminalization will help the economy. We will regulate marijuana like alcohol and tobacco. It’s a simple fix.”

Support volunteer citizen journalism at the Blog for Arizona with a donation today. Your PayPal contribution keeps the Blog online and sustains a free press in Arizona.