Arizona

Update: Democrat Kennedy, Republican Olson Apparent Arizona CorpComm Winners

Justin Olson, an incumbent on the Arizona Corporation Commission who is poised to win re-election.
Justin Olson, an incumbent on the Arizona Corporation Commission who is poised to win re-election. Gage Skidmore/Flickr
click to enlarge Justin Olson, an incumbent on the Arizona Corporation Commission who is poised to win re-election. - GAGE SKIDMORE/FLICKR
Justin Olson, an incumbent on the Arizona Corporation Commission who is poised to win re-election.
Update, 8:00 a.m., November 15: Democrat Sandra Kennedy and Republican Justin Olson are the apparent winners in the race for two open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Kennedy declared victory late Tuesday, and on Wednesday night, Republican Rodney Glassman conceded. The race has not been officially called, and Arizona still has 125,000 ballots to process.

click to enlarge ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE
Arizona Secretary of State's office
Update, 5:30 p.m., November 12: With 992,644 votes, Democrat Sandra Kennedy has overtaken Republicans Justin Olson and Rodney Glassman in the race for two open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Olson is now in second place, with 982,171 votes.

click to enlarge ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE
Arizona Secretary of State's office
Update, 6:55 p.m., November 9: Democrat Sandra Kennedy has overtaken Republican Rodney Glassman for second place in the race for two open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Republican Justin Olson remains in first place, with about 901,690 votes. Kennedy has 899,847 votes, Glassman 898,245.
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click to enlarge ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE
Arizona Secretary of State's office

Update, 6:15 p.m., November 8:
 Republicans Justin Olson and Rodney Glassman are maintaining a tight lead over Democrat Sandra Kennedy in the race for two open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Kennedy has gained in the past two days as counties continue processing ballots. The latest results from the Arizona Secretary of State's office show Olson with 856,848 votes, Glassman with 853,707, and Kennedy with 846,400, just 7,307 votes behind Glassman.


Original story continues below:


Republicans Justin Olson and Rodney Glassman are leading the race for the two open seats on the Corporation Commission in Arizona. If they win, the GOP will retain control of the five-member, quasi-judicial body. At 11:15 p.m. Tuesday night, the race remained too close to call.

By that time on Tuesday night, Olson led with 25.93 percent of the vote. Glassman had 25.88 percent, and the closest Democrat, Sandra Kennedy, had 24.95 percent. Last in place was Democrat Kiana Sears, with 23.24 percent.
click to enlarge Justin Olson, left, and Rodney Glassman. - STEVEN HSIEH/PHOENIX NEW TIMES
Justin Olson, left, and Rodney Glassman.
Steven Hsieh/Phoenix New Times
"I'm excited to be in first place," Justin Olson said at the Republican watch party on Tuesday night. "We're going to take conservative principles to the Corporation Commission."

Olson is an incumbent who was appointed to the commission in October 2017 by Governor Doug Ducey. Glassman is a former Tucson city councilman who is perhaps best known for his 2010 bid to unseat the late Senator John McCain. At that time, Glassman ran as a Democrat.

The Corporation Commission determines utility rates, oversees the incorporation process for businesses and nonprofits, and regulates securities in Arizona. In recent years, it has been dogged by ethics scandals, leaving public perceptions of its integrity in tatters. A 2017 poll found that nearly all of Arizonans polled believed the commission had been corrupted by the utilities it is tasked with regulating.

For those Arizonans, or any Arizonan hoping to see integrity restored to this fourth body of government, Tuesday's election results could be bad news, should Olson and Glassman prevail.

Olson's ties with Arizona Public Service, the largest electricity utility in Arizona, appear closer than he has let on.

Emails obtained by the watchdog group Energy Policy Institute showed that he has borrowed talking points from APS when speaking with Wall Street analysts. He forwarded questions from an investment analyst at Credit Suisse to a lobbyist from APS, according to EPI, and then relied directly on the answers he received when responding to the analyst.
click to enlarge Rodney Glassman, second from left, at the 2018 Legislative Forecast Luncheon in Phoenix in January. - GAGE SKIDMORE/FLICKR
Rodney Glassman, second from left, at the 2018 Legislative Forecast Luncheon in Phoenix in January.

During his Senate run, Glassman was accused of plagiarizing parts of his Ph.D. dissertation, accusations he denied. In his Corporation Commission campaign, he put — well, borrowed — a proposal to "restore integrity" at the Commission. That proposal entailed applying the existing Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct, to which all judges in Arizona are bound, to the members of the Corporation Commission.

Kennedy, a former commissioner, was also a state legislator and senator. Sears was at one point employed for six years at the CorpComm, and she also serves on the Mesa School board.

Steven Hsieh contributed reporting.
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Elizabeth Whitman was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from March 2019 to April 2020.